News Analysis: Duqu and its predecessor Stuxnet are causing global damage to data systems that had nothing to do with the cyber-war that created them.
of the most sobering things I had to do during my naval career was to check the
aim on the big guns on the ship to make sure that the explosive shells fell on
the target with sufficient accuracy that they eliminated the target and as
little else as possible.
did this by sitting inside a gun director-a small rotating turret high on the
superstructure of the ship. My job was to watch and pull a switch when the aim
was right. Then I'd watch the target vanish in a flash.
making sure we hit the right target, I was responsible for reducing as much as
possible the collateral damage caused by the explosion. And make no mistake,
naval gunfire is highly effective and a miss can cause devastation. Today many
of the latest weapons chosen by one state to attack another don't cause
explosions. Instead, they disrupt computer systems and sometimes destroy the
things those computers control. The damage is just as real, but the shot is
silent and it comes seemingly from nowhere.
first of these weapons was Stuxnet, which was designed to ruin Iran's nuclear
production capability by destroying its uranium enrichment centrifuges. Now
comes a similar
weapon called Duqu
. Right now, no one knows for sure who launched Duqu, but
like Stuxnet it has created significant collateral damage.
we do know about Duqu is that it shares a number of common characteristics with
Stuxnet. Both worms exploit
zero-day vulnerabilities in Windows
, but neither really steals anything of
monetary value. Both rely on command and control systems located far from where
they do their damage. Duqu originally
used servers in India
, then in Belgium. All of the known command and
control services have been shut down.
Stuxnet alerted security researchers around the world to this type of activity,
so Duqu was detected in short order by researchers at the Laboratory of
Cryptography and System Security at the Budapest University
of Technology and Economics
. Researchers there discovered the worm and
worked with researchers at Symantec to
discover its nature and its means of spreading
through infected Microsoft
notable that Duqu is apparently designed to gather intelligence that will
eventually lead to another Stuxnet-like attack. It includes a keylogger and a
means of transmitting the information gathered to another computer. A
Symantec white paper contends
that the authors of Duqu had access to the
Stuxnet source code, which means that they are the same people who created
Stuxnet or they are allied with those people.