Home · Security · Stuxnet: Malware more complex, targeted and dangerous than ever

Stuxnet: Malware more complex, targeted and dangerous than ever

(CNN) -- Stuxnet is viewed as potentially the most dangerous piece of computer malware discovered. It's been developed on an unprecedented scale and has the ability to target and control specified industrial machinery.

Trying to explain how this works is a bit like trying to trace the origin of this nasty little piece of work. It's a bit all over the place so bear with me on this one.

It's an attack that goes straight after the PLC (programmable logic control) software of an industrial machine, which is effectively the brain of the unit. It uses four zero-day exploits in one package, with a zero-day exploit being an undiscovered flaw in a piece of software; it's the time between the hackers finding a hole in the system and when the developers patch it. And in this case there are four of these exploits, meaning that they've already exponentially increased the chances of finding a way into the system in case any of the holes happened to already be plugged.

Once the malware infects the system it can spread to other computers on the local intranet. It is not an internet-based piece of malware; it can spread through indirect internet usage, but that's not how it sets about its business.

Its main course of action is to look for a specific type of machinery, then report back to a central control server located hundreds of miles away, from where the commands will again be relayed off into the maze of servers set up to make tracing near impossible. More...

09-28-2010 17:27