08 June 2012
Flame malware is very like Stuxnet and Duqu before it
Weaponised malware – a term first used to describe Stuxnet – is a rising trend, with Stuxnet, DUQU and now Flame, according to enterprise key and certificate management specialist Venafi.
"This is not the end; it is the beginning," warns Venafi's CEO Jeff Hudson.
"If organisations do not have an automated [certificate] management system in place, the likelihood of a catastrophic event is very high," he continues.
"Also, when the event occurs, recovery and remediation will take a very long time. Just like you need to manage and keep software up to date, you need to do the same thing with certificates."
Hudson points to a steady stream of third-party trust providers and the instruments they provide being compromised. He cites RSA, Comodo, StartSSL, DigiNotar, Verisign, and now with Flame, also Microsoft. No one is safe, he insists.
"If you hear someone talk about how they know what they are doing and have taken precautions so that they won't be compromised, run the other way," advises Hudson. "They are in denial or worse. These are very high value targets and the compromises will continue. I chuckle when I think about how so many said that the RSA compromise was an isolated incident."
Hudson also makes the point that the term 'weaponised' was coined for a reason – the new level of malware translates to physical damage highly likely to have been developed by nation states to engage in cyber warfare.
"The interesting thing about nation-state developed weapons is that once developed and deployed, they find their way into the hands of non-nation state actors... The attack vectors brought to you by weaponised malware are, with certainty, going to be employed by criminals to steal money, intellectual property, and anything else of value."
"From the many conversations I have with CIOs and CISOs in the industry, their understanding of this issue and their commitment to fixing this problem is similar to their thinking on software updates and patches a long time ago. The attitude can be characterised as poor understanding, non-committed to act, ambivalence and dereliction in an important duty," comments Hudson.
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