07.11.17

On the NSA & its malware

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 10:08 am by George Smith

The NSA leaking malware that comes back to bite everyone, in the news.

The Virus Creation Labs.

Been there. Done that. Seen it all.

At Good Reads.

Computer code changes with the times. The social behavioral code of human beings who do malware doesn’t.

People writing about the NSA’s ability to write malware should focus less on the fancy names — the Equation Group, Tailored Access — credited to the coders and more on how little they differ from those who walked the same ground many years earlier. The affection for special group names is a giveaway.


Selected quote from the New York Times…

In an email … Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, noted that the government “employs a disciplined, high-level interagency decision-making process for disclosure of known vulnerabilities” in software, “unlike any other country in the world.”

Mr. Anton said the administration “is committed to responsibly balancing national security interests and public safety and security,” but declined to comment “on the origin of any of the code making up this malware.”

What makes them so special? Who decides who the deciders are? In 1994 the idea that virus-writers, amateurs or professionals be consulted over such matters would have struck the anti-virus business as insanely funny.

Any system the believes this at the same time it has pressured old school anti-virus man Eugene Kaspersky into revealing his source code is seriously screwed up.

[The] government has blamed others. Two weeks ago, the United States — through the Department of Homeland Security — said it had evidence North Korea was responsible for a wave of attacks in May using ransomware called WannaCry that shut down hospitals, rail traffic and production lines. The attacks on Tuesday against targets in Ukraine, which spread worldwide, appeared more likely to be the work of Russian hackers …

Blame-shifting.

“I’m not sure we understand the full capability of what can happen, that these sophisticated viruses can suddenly mutate into other areas you didn’t intend, more and more,” Mr. Panetta said. “That’s the threat we’re going to face in the near future.”

Anyone with any sense knew this about computer viruses and malware back in the early Nineties, perhaps earlier. Viruses tended to get into the most unexpected places.

In the past two months, attackers have retrofitted …

Twenty some years ago this is what over half of The Virus Creation Labs was about.

Mr. Panetta was among the officials warning years ago of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” that could bring down the American power grid. But he and others never imagined that those same enemies might use the N.S.A.’s own cyberweapons.

That’s because Mr. Panetta never read The Virus Creation Labs. And he was always wrong about cyber-Pearl Harbor, too.

But armed with the N.S.A.’s own tools, the limits are gone.

“We now have actors, like North Korea and segments of the Islamic State, who have access to N.S.A. tools who don’t care about economic and other ties between nation states,” said Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

American exceptionalism: The hubris that our malware writers are somehow better, self-restrained good-guys, superior to all others. Hilarious. Read The Virus Creation Labs.


Some other citations.

The original teaser in Computer underground Digest, 1994.

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