New Super Virus Evolved from Stuxnet
Technology Articles 10/23/11
By: Chris Capps
Security analysts are warning of a new virus that has several of the code markings of the original Stuxnet virus originally spotted in Iranian reactors, but it seems to have been altered and discovered in a number of places across the United States in important buildings of infrastructure. The incredibly bizarre find has been dubbed Duqu after the initials found in several of the file names left in its wake, "DQ." But where did it come from and what could this powerful problem be a precursor to?
It seems strange that an incredibly advanced virus, almost certainly developed by the intelligence agency of any one of several nations would appear in so many systems throughout the world regardless of their own political affiliation. If Stuxnet was designed to shut down the nuclear reactor of one facility in Iran, why wouldn't its coders make it in such a way that prevented it being discovered and dissected like this new later model? Duqu may as well be a ghost as far as security analysts are concerned, as it passes through a system and then destroys itself to make capture more difficult. But it does leave much behind, some of which has been decoded with some strange results suggesting a strong connection to Stuxnet. It seems whoever made Stuxnet may have made it too well.
The virus has been detected in several European power stations and even in the United States connected to systems which control dams, disguising itself as a legitimate code essentially designed to run any one of the millions of necessary operations in computers. The legitimate certificate the code possessed was traced back to Taipei Taiwan and a company that has not yet been named. The company reportedly revoked the license after the discovery of the virus. Despite this it continues to proliferate throughout systems worldwide spreading by means unknown.
What caused this mysterious virus? And how can we be sure there aren't more viruses that gradually grew out of Stuxnet and other codes like it? Keep in mind just how difficult it was to even detect Stuxnet in 2010, and how unlikely it may be that we will discover all of the viruses out there today in time to stop a potential threat. And what will this mean about the future? Will we one day be standing face to face with a worldwide crisis or war that is fought with strings of code and computer espionage rather than with guns and bombs? One of the more disturbing elements of a war using computer systems is how we would not even likely see it coming until it was already everywhere. Regardless, it seems the infrastructure of our country and many others is in greater danger as time goes on, and the responsible party for a major event may not even be discovered in the aftermath.
If this virus is eventually traced back to its source, it's sure to cause diplomatic problems as Stuxnet is almost certainly linked to a government with a very active computer espionage program - something that nations worldwide until this point have denied having.
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