New revelations about the Stuxnet worm as well as a report about Internet traffic being rerouted through servers in China led security news during the past week.
Cyber-security took a political bent this past week due to discussions of
Stuxnet's true target and allegations that a Chinese company had caused
Internet traffic to be rerouted through servers in China.
against China Telecom were aired in a report
to Congress by the
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. In the report, the
commission wrote that on April 8 the company had "advertised
erroneous network traffic routes that instructed U.S.
and other foreign Internet traffic to travel through Chinese servers."
"Other servers around the world quickly adopted these paths, routing
all traffic to about 15 percent of the Internet's destinations through servers
located in China,"
according to the report. "This incident affected traffic to and from U.S.
government ('.gov') and military ('.mil'') sites, including those for the
Senate, the army, the navy ... and many others. Certain commercial websites
were also affected, such as those for Dell, Yahoo, Microsoft and IBM
Initial media reports that 15 percent of all Internet traffic had been hijacked
security researchers told eWEEK. In its report, the
commission stopped short of stating anything had been done deliberately, but
noted "the capability could enable severe malicious activities."
Meanwhile, researchers continued peeling
back the layers
of the Stuxnet worm, this time uncovering evidence that the
malware could have been meant to disrupt nuclear programs. According to
Symantec, the worm targets frequency converter drives, which are used to
control the speed of motors.
"Stuxnet monitors the current operating frequency of these motors,
which must be between 807Hz and 1,210Hz, before Stuxnet modifies their
behavior," explained Eric Chien, technical director of Symantec Security
Response. "Relative to the typical uses of frequency converter drives,
these frequencies are considered very high-speed and now limit the potential
speculated targets of Stuxnet. We are not experts in industrial control
systems and do not know all the possible applications at these speeds, but ... efficient
low-harmonic frequency converter drives that output over 600Hz are regulated
for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they
can be used for uranium enrichment."
This added to speculation that the true target of the worm was Iran's
. On Nov. 17, the U.S. Senate committee on Homeland Security
and Government Affairs held
a hearing with experts
that touched on the worm, which was called a "game-changer"
by Sean McGurk, acting director of the Department of Homeland Security's
National Cybersecurity and Communications
"We have not seen this coordinated effort of information technology
[and] industrial control exploitations completely wrapped up in one unique
package," McGurk said.
Elsewhere in the world of security, Facebook discussed with eWEEK some of
the details of its security
plans for Facebook Messages
, and Adobe Systems made good on its promise to
bring sandboxing technology to bear in Adobe Reader X for Windows users.
According to Adobe, the technology is similar to what Google and Microsoft have
implemented in Chrome and Office 2010 Protected Viewing Mode, respectively.
is not a security silver bullet
, it provides a strong additional level of
defense against attacks as software vendors work on reducing both the frequency
and the impact of security vulnerabilities," an Adobe spokesperson