Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

3/19/2012
05:24 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Duqu Code Written By Seasoned Programmers, Researchers Find

Another clue about Duqu solved that further confirms a highly sophisticated and well-backed operation, but the attackers are still not unmasked

The mystery of who's really behind the sophisticated Stuxnet and Duqu attacks remains unsolved, but new evidence shows that the masterminds behind Duqu relied on professional programmers in their code development.

Kaspersky Lab researchers today announced that, with the help of the security community, they were able to unravel the origins of a well-masked programming language used to write the communications module in Duqu, the information-stealing malware that researchers at Kaspersky and other firms say is connected to Stuxnet. They also said that the same group of actors is behind both malware attacks.

Turns out the attackers used object-oriented C language compiled with Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 -- which indicates that it wasn't your typical malware writer behind it, but more of an "old school" programmer, according to Kaspersky researchers. "This is not common for malware writers, that's for sure," Vitaly Kamluk, chief malware analyst, said in a press briefing today. "This looks like a normal style for coding enterprise-wide applications."

Kamluk says the language used is very commonly a tool for professional software developers, which suggests that the Duqu writers were not a typical cybercriminal outfit. Kaspersky earlier this month asked the security community for assistance in identifying the programming language, which didn't appear to one they had ever seen before.

Most researchers agree that Duqu and Stuxnet came from the same code base, but there is still some debate over whether the two attacks are related. Kaspersky earlier this year found that there were at least three other unrelated exploits written from the so-called "Tilded" platform. But no one has yet confirmed who is behind the attack campaigns, even amid heavy speculation that it was the handiwork of Israel and the U.S. in an attempt to halt Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

"We are not closer to the answer of which country might be behind it," Kamluk said. "We have some guesses, and we are still aggressively researching it."

[ Researchers remain at odds over whether this latest highly targeted threat with several parallels to Stuxnet is actually related to Stuxnet. See What Is Duqu Up To?. ]

Other researchers, including Dell SecureWorks, have disputed any connection between the Duqu and Stuxnet attacks. Just because they were generated from the same toolkit, SecureWorks' Don Jackson has argued, doesn't mean they are part of the same attack.

One theory posed by Kaspersky and other research firms is that Duqu was the reconnaissance piece of the Stuxnet attack on the Siemens equipment. But SecureWorks says that's not the case.

Meanwhile, when Kaspersky researchers were unable to decipher the programming language with Duqu, they asked for outside help. "We thought it was one of two options, either C or a new programming language. That's why we asked the community" for help, Kamluk said.

The creators of Duqu and Stuxnet have been careful not to leave behind clues that might give away their native spoken language or country of origin, he said.

Why the OOC language versus C++? Kaspersky says programmers who use OOC say it's likely that these "old-school" programmers don't trust C++ compilers and like the portability of OOC. "Both reasons appear to indicate the code was written by a team of experienced, 'old-school' developers," blogged Igor Soumenkov, a security expert for Kaspersky Lab.

Screen shots and additional technical details of this latest Duqu finding are here.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
US Turning Up the Heat on North Korea's Cyber Threat Operations
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  9/16/2019
Preventing PTSD and Burnout for Cybersecurity Professionals
Craig Hinkley, CEO, WhiteHat Security,  9/16/2019
NetCAT Vulnerability Is Out of the Bag
Dark Reading Staff 9/12/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-3738
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-18
RSA BSAFE Crypto-J versions prior to 6.2.5 are vulnerable to an Improper Verification of Cryptographic Signature vulnerability. A malicious remote attacker could potentially exploit this vulnerability to coerce two parties into computing the same predictable shared key.
CVE-2019-3739
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-18
RSA BSAFE Crypto-J versions prior to 6.2.5 are vulnerable to Information Exposure Through Timing Discrepancy vulnerabilities during ECDSA key generation. A malicious remote attacker could potentially exploit those vulnerabilities to recover ECDSA keys.
CVE-2019-3740
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-18
RSA BSAFE Crypto-J versions prior to 6.2.5 are vulnerable to an Information Exposure Through Timing Discrepancy vulnerabilities during DSA key generation. A malicious remote attacker could potentially exploit those vulnerabilities to recover DSA keys.
CVE-2019-3756
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-18
RSA Archer, versions prior to 6.6 P3 (6.6.0.3), contain an information disclosure vulnerability. Information relating to the backend database gets disclosed to low-privileged RSA Archer users' UI under certain error conditions.
CVE-2019-3758
PUBLISHED: 2019-09-18
RSA Archer, versions prior to 6.6 P2 (6.6.0.2), contain an improper authentication vulnerability. The vulnerability allows sysadmins to create user accounts with insufficient credentials. Unauthenticated attackers could gain unauthorized access to the system using those accounts.