The Flame - Malware Worthy of John Brunner
A new piece of malware, dubbed "Flame" by Kaspersky Lab in Russia, is now making the rounds in the Middle East.
(Number and geographical location of Flame infections)
Early analysis of Flame by the Lab indicates that its designed primarily to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes. It also opens a backdoor to infected systems to allow the attackers to tweak the toolkit and add new functionality.
The malware, which is 20 megabytes when all of its modules are installed, contains multiple libraries, SQLite3 databases, various levels of encryption some strong, some weak and 20 plug-ins that can be swapped in and out to provide various functionality for the attackers. It even contains some code that is written in the LUA programming language an uncommon choice for malware.
Kaspersky Lab is calling it one of the most complex threats ever discovered.
Because Flame is so big, it gets loaded to a system in pieces. The machine first gets hit with a 6-megabyte component, which contains about half a dozen other compressed modules inside. The main component extracts, decompresses and decrypts these modules and writes them to various locations on disk. The number of modules in an infection depends on what the attackers want to do on a particular machine.
SF fans recall that John Brunner created the idea of a computer tapeworm in his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider. Read about the complexity of this fictional creation:
"My newest [tapeworm] breeds by itself. For a head it wears a maximum-national-advantage rating, a priority code... allocated to ... hypercorps ... treated for years as though above the law...
Right behind that, my worm wears a U-group code... the owner of a U-group will never find himself in jail...
In back of that, there's the key which opens the secure data banks at all secret psychological research establishments. Behind that is the one which opens Treasury files on tax-avoidance suits unpursued by presidential order....
By now, I don't know exactly what there is in the worm. More bits are being added automatically as it works its way to places I never dreamed existed.
Here's a bit more from ESecurity Planet on the Flame virus and its size:
Although it is still early days in the full analysis of Flamer, one thing is clear - the codebase is massive.
"Flamer is the largest piece of malware that we've ever analyzed," said Symantec's Thakur. "It could take weeks if not months to actually go through the whole thing."
McAfee's Marcus noted that most of the malware he encounters is in the 1 MB to 3 MB range, whereas Flamer is 30 MB or more.
"You're literally talking about an order of complexity that is far greater than anything we have run into in a while," Marcus said.
More recently, fans of sf writer David Webber recall the Malware in Out of the Dark. Even to the point of it's origin in the middle east. In the story, the Shongairi, an alien race, has come to take over earth. To understand earthlings better before the attack, they unleash a malware program just like the "Flame".
Via Wired and ESecurity Planet; thanks also to William Carroll at ExpandUrMind for the tip and a reference.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/28/2012)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...' - Edmond Hamilton, 1926.
Finally! Microsoft Surface Neo And Surface Duo Implement Excellent Courier Idea
'Runcible, whose pages were thicker and more densely packed with computational machinery...' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.
Tap Strap 2 Now With Air Mouse
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.
Entire Planet Modeled In New MS Flight Sim
'CIC uses [it] to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns...' - Neal Stephenson, 1992.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.'
Magic Mushroom Nose Spray From Silo Wellness
'I don't need help... that's not my diagnosis!'
CAV-X Supercavitating Ammo Deadly Underwater
'...in the midst of this fluid, which is very dense compared with the atmosphere, shots could not go far.'
Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...'
Injectable Magnetic Fluid Slows Bleeding, Aids Magneto
'There's something different about you.'
Autonomous Wheelchairs Improve Airport Mobility
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'
HVSD, Kitty Hawk's Electric Plane
Very quiet commuter plane offers VTOL service.
Frictionless Toilet Could Save 140 Billion Liters Of Water
'The bowl was a frictionless surface...'
Viisights AI Hones Video Surveillance
'The math boys worked it out...'
Cybertruck The Solar-Powered Steel Tortoise
'It drew its power from... sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
Road Noise Charges Electric Cars With Peugeot Piezoelectric Billboard
''... major cities of Earth have free electrical power conveniently processed from their own noise.'
Unsinkable Metal Latest Gates Obsession
'A metal... light as cork.'
M-Blocks 2.0 Self-Assembling Robots
'Faster the cubes moved...'
NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.'
Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'
Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories