Malware: a tool in the hands of Governments?

October 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

George Orwell wrote 1984 as a SF book disguising a strong criticism to the tendency of the old Warsaw Pact Countries to spy on their own people. He would have not foreseen that it would have been a pale description of what happens today.

It seems that there are many groups out there, spying on people selected in a very interesting way: it could be very difficult to demonstrate the allegiance of those hackers to specific Governments, but the suspect is strong. For example, very recently a malware targeting Hong Kong protesters has been discovered (see: Malware program targets Hong Kong protesters who use Apple devices).

It is perhaps even more worrying that Colleges and Schools have started spying on their students, in the U.S. (see: http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/grooming-students-for-a-lifetime-of-surveillance). The author of the study highlights how this behavior could lead students to be accustomed to being spied upon.

And it is a known fact that some Governmental Organizations (read: the NSA) spy on and infiltrate foreign Countries, even friendly ones (see: Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China and Germany) and foreign Companies, especially in the telecommunications sector. Their goal is both to collect information and to undermine the ability to protect conversations, by weakening the encryption systems used by them.

The last chapter of this history has been written by iSight Partners, which discovered a vulnerability in Windows – patched yesterday – that has been seen to be used by a Team of Hackers from Russia to attack NATO, the Ukrainian Government, some strategic targets in Europe and an U.S. academic organization (see: iSIGHT discovers zero-day vulnerability CVE-2014-4114 used in Russian cyber-espionage campaign). As in other cases, it is very difficult to identify the sender for those attacks, but the targets and the source of the attacks are suspicious enough.

No doubt about it: we live in a scary time… or full of opportunities, depending on how you look at it.

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