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Stuxnet Authors At It Again with Duqu?

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Stuxnet's authors -- be they in the U.S., Israeli or other intelligence establishments -- are still toiling away to find virtual ways to do real-world damage.

What we do have now is tangible evidence that attackers are using the complex code of Stuxnet as a foundation for other attacks.

On its Security Response blog, Symantec this week posted an entry about a new threat called Duqu:

"Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack. The threat was written by the same authors (or those that have access to the Stuxnet source code) and appears to have been created since the last Stuxnet file was recovered. Duqu's purpose is to gather intelligence data and assets from entities, such as industrial control system manufacturers, in order to more easily conduct a future attack against another third party. The attackers are looking for information such as design documents that could help them mount a future attack on an industrial control facility."

What made Stuxnet stand out was that it appeared to have as its purpose the destruction of a real-world facility -- centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear facility -- making it the first known code used for real-world sabotage. What made Stuxnet stand out for Microsoft partners was that Stuxnet used four zero-day vulnerabilities in Windows and had at least two stolen digital signatures.

That Duqu seems to be information-collection malware rather than a code missile for causing real-world destruction makes it a more traditional form of threat. That the Stuxnet code is a foundation for future malware is a reminder -- if one were needed -- that Stuxnet won't be a unique event.

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Posted by Scott Bekker on October 19, 2011 at 11:58 AM


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