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Some Viruses Are Just Viruses

November 13, 2013

I saw one or two stories about the fact that “Stuxnet” had been found on the systems of the International Space Station, so I poked around.  Hot Air has a couple news sources that are on the right track… viruses are everywhere, and they will find their way everywhere in a connected system.  But The Register helps to deflate the balloon just a bit:

Kaspersky didn’t identify the malware at the time, and the listening press pack didn’t ask, but he has since identified the malware as Gammima-AG, a Trojan designed to steal online gaming passwords. The Russian antivirus boss referred to earlier reports of the incident – which caused no damage or disruption but illustrates the point that Windows systems everywhere are wide open to infection. It also highlights how USB sticks can easily spread digital nasties.

During the same speech in Australia, Kaspersky separately revealed that Stuxnet had infected the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant after causing chaos in Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, something that unlike the ISS infection does represent new information.

So, yes, there was a Stuxnet infection in a Russian plant, which probably didn’t affect it since it had the wrong signature.  There was also a Russian gamer who forgot to scan his USB stick before he used it at the ISS.  They weren’t necessarily related.

It isn’t a bad thing to work on better security measures.  All too many people would find a USB drive on the floor and stuff it into a computer.  The complexity of modern deployments makes it really easy to spread infections with little defense.  But we have to watch conflating too much together, because then cyber-security becomes impossible to manage because of the irrational fear involved in things.

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