A Deadly Surveillance Malware By NSA
US National Security Agency has most probably launched a surveillance malware to computers in more than 30 countries. The only way to get rid of it is by smashing your hard drive, a report says.
Igor Soumenkov, principal security researcher at Kaspersky told Mashable, "The best way to get rid of it is to physically destroy the hard drive," on Tuesday.
Kaspersky Lab Inc., a Moscow-based cybersecurity company, made an announcement earlier about the malware but did not explicitly mention the NSA, calling the perpetrators the Equation Group.
However, Costin Raiu, the director of Kaspersky’s global research and analysis team, said given its sophistication and activities, the group must be backed by a government agency as the NSA.
The malware is said to have targeted governments and diplomatic institutions, military, Islamic activists and key industries such as telecommunications, aerospace, energy, financial institutions and oil and gas in more than 30 countries including Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In some of the computers, the malware has been embedded in hard drives, Kaspersky said, adding the group’s ability to infect hard-drive firmware “exceeds anything we have ever seen before.”
“To achieve this level of sophistication you need a lot of resources and money,” Raiu said. “We are not seeing any kind of obvious financial theft associated with this operation so they have to be nation-state sponsored.”
The malware was later found to be part of the Stuxnet computer worm, launched by the US and Israel against Iran’s nuclear program back in 2010.
Vanee Vines, an NSA spokeswoman, refused to comment on the report or discuss any details about Washington’s spying programs.
If the spyware has become embedded deep inside a hard drive, there is almost no way for the owner to detect it since the group uses at least six malware platforms, according to Mashable.
Kaspersky Lab researchers had to crowdsource the operation on Twitter after spending two weeks to crack just one cryptographic element.
"Everyone has to worry about this," said security expert Bruce Schneier, adding similar techniques are used by other countries “And they will be used by criminals."
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