Beyond Stuxnet

Looks like someone, and I’m guessing it’s not the Anonymous script kiddies, is getting ready to open a serious can of cyberwarfare whoop ass on someone.

W32.Duqu: The Precursor to the Next Stuxnet

On October 14, 2011, a research lab with strong international connections alerted us to a sample that appeared to be very similar to Stuxnet. They named the threat “Duqu” [dyü-kyü] because it creates files with the file name prefix “~DQ”. The research lab provided us with samples recovered from computer systems located in Europe, as well as a detailed report with their initial findings, including analysis comparing the threat to Stuxnet, which we were able to confirm. Parts of Duqu are nearly identical to Stuxnet, but with a completely different purpose.

Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack. The threat was written by the same authors (or those that have access to the Stuxnet source code) and appears to have been created since the last Stuxnet file was recovered. Duqu’s purpose is to gather intelligence data and assets from entities, such as industrial control system manufacturers, in order to more easily conduct a future attack against another third party. The attackers are looking for information such as design documents that could help them mount a future attack on an industrial control facility.

Duqu does not contain any code related to industrial control systems and is primarily a remote access Trojan (RAT). The threat does not self-replicate. Our telemetry shows the threat was highly targeted toward a limited number of organizations for their specific assets. However, it’s possible that other attacks are being conducted against other organizations in a similar manner with currently undetected variants.

See also:
Son of Stuxnet Found in the Wild on Systems in Europe
Duqu May Have Targeted Certificate Authorities for Encryption Keys
Stuxnet Clone ‘Duqu’: The Hydrogen Bomb of Cyberwarfare?
“Son of Stuxnet” Virus Uncovered
New virus a cyber ‘attack in the making’
Cyberattack forecast after spy virus found
Stuxnet successor on the loose?
Brace for “son of Stuxnet” — Duqu spies on SCADA
Duqu: Son of Stuxnet?
Symantec, McAfee differ on Duqu threat
Who’s behind worm Duqu, ‘son of Stuxnet’?
Stuxnet-based cyber espionage virus targets European firms
Key European Nuclear Firms Attacked By Variation On Stuxnet Virus

A couple of conclusions come to mind. First, the fact that Duqu is based on Stuxnet and the Stuxnet source code has never been released makes it a sure bet that the authors are one in the same, namely Israel and/or the United States, Second, the fact that Duqu is clandestinely collecting information from European manufacturers of industrial control system software, specifically software that controls nuclear facilities, strongly suggests that the eventual primary target of the apparent pending cyberattack will, once again, be Iran’s nuclear program.

/in other words, Duqu is setting up a cyberassault that will hopefully finish, once and for all, the job that Stuxnet so effectively started, halting Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon in its tracks without having to bomb the [expletive deleted] out of their nuclear facilities

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When Chinese RATs Attack

Oh, hey, look what China did, again. Isn’t this supposed to be an act of war now?

Massive Global Cyberattack Targeting U.S., U.N. Discovered; Experts Blame China

The world’s most extensive case of cyber-espionage, including attacks on U.S. government and U.N. computers, was revealed Wednesday by online security firm McAfee, and analysts are speculating that China is behind the attacks.

The spying was dubbed “Operation Shady RAT,” or “remote access tool” by McAfee — and it led to a massive loss of information that poses a huge economic threat, wrote vice president of threat research Dmitri Alperovitch.

. . .

Analysts told The Washington Post that the finger of blame for the infiltration of the 72 networks — 49 of them in the U.S. — points firmly in the direction of China.

See also:
Revealed: Operation Shady RAT
McAfee’s Operation Shady RAT exposes national cybersecurity lapses
McAfee discovers massive series of cyber attacks
Hacking Campaign Targets U.S. Government, Signs Point to China
Operation Shady RAT: five-year hack attack hit 14 countries
China Suspected Of Shady RAT Attacks
Q+A: Massive cyber attack dubbed “Operation Shady RAT”
Operation Shady RAT: A frightening web of global cyber-espionage
Operation Shady RAT smells like Chinese hacking
All cursors point to China in global hack attack that threatens nations
China accused of biggest ever global cyber spying attacks
Hackers Based in China Attack UN, Olympic Networks, Security Firms Report
Operation Shady RAT and the cyberhacking
APT Attackers Used Chinese-Authored Hacker Tool To Hide Their Tracks

Why did it take a private security company to uncover the largest case of cyberspying in world history and why aren’t we doing something about it?

/does China have to steal every last piece of sensitive and secret computer data we possess before we start taking this threat seriously?

World’s Ugliest Dog I Am

And the 2011 winner is . . . Yoda!

Yoda is world’s ugliest dog

Yoda’s short tufts of hair, protruding tongue, and long, seemingly hairless legs were enough to earn it the World’s Ugliest Dog title at a Northern California fair.

The 14-year-old Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix won the honour at the annual contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair.

Owner Terry Schumacher of Hanford, California, says the 2lb (900-gram) dog has come a long way since she was found abandoned behind an apartment building. Ms Schumacher says she first thought the pooch was a rat.

See also:
She’s a bit ruff! Chinese-crested Chihuahua mix wins the World’s Ugliest Dog title
1.8 Pound Mutt Claims the 2011 World’s Ugliest Dog (R) Title at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma Tonight
Chinese crested from Hanford wins 23rd annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest
Meet Yoda, the world’s ugliest dog
The World’s Ugliest Dog is announced.. as Yoda
14-yr-old chihuahua named Yoda wins ‘world’s ugliest dog’ title
Yoda crowned the world’s ugliest dog
World’s Ugliest Dog Crowned, Might Be So Ugly It’s Cute
Ugliest Dog Contest: Chinese Crested Chihuahua Mix Takes Top Prize
Pictures: 2011 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest
Yoda crowned world’s ugliest dog
World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest
World’s Ugliest Dog Contest

Congratulations to Yoda, but she may as well be Miss Universe compared to previous World’s Ugliest Dog winners like 2007’s Elwood . . .

. . . or three time champion Sam.

Hoo boy, them there dogs been beaten silly with the ugly stick!

/I’ll stick to cats

Building Organs From Scratch

They’re getting really close now, this is exciting stuff.

Growing lungs in a lab: researchers move closer to goal

Now two research groups have made major strides in attacking the problem. One has successfully engineered a lung that can sustain a living rat and the other has created a lung-mimicking device for toxicology studies that acts more like a real lung than any earlier efforts, the groups reported Thursday in the journal Science.

One report brings closer the day when artificial lungs might be grown for human transplants; the other offers a method for testing the effects of toxic chemicals on lungs that is cheaper and more humane than animal tests and more reliable than ones done in test tubes, scientists said.

In work colleagues described as daring, a team led by Dr. Laura Niklason at Yale University grew rat lungs almost from scratch.

Because lungs are so complicated, the group used a scaffold-based approach — they took lungs from adult rats and dissolved away all the cells, leaving behind a fibrous lung “skeleton.”

They seeded these scaffolds with lung cells from newborn rats and — through careful coaxing that included incubation in a “lung bioreactor” that mimicked the fetal lung environment — produced what appeared to be functional lungs.

They then implanted the lungs into four live rats and showed that the engineered lungs were 95% as efficient as natural ones.

The same methodology had been used to successfully create beating rat and pig hearts in 2008 — although in those cases, the organs were never transplanted into living animals.

“It’s exciting to see that it’s not just about [the] heart; it works in other organs and tissues too,” said Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota, who conducted the pioneering heart work. “It really reinforces the belief that these scaffolds are smart. They know how to tell cells what to do, where to go and how to behave.”

There are still kinks in the process: A few hours after rats received the lungs, tiny blood clots began to form, probably because of bare spots on the scaffold. “It’s pointed out to us what worked, but it’s also pointed out to us what needs to be made better,” Niklason said.

See also:
Breakthrough: Lab Lungs Live and Breathe
Mouse Lungs Grown From Stem Cells At U Of M
Scientists Build a Rat Lung
Breathing lungs, straight from the lab
N.E. researchers create functioning lung tissue
UTMB grows lungs from ‘skeletons’
Engineered Mouse Lungs Function Well in Laboratory Study
Scientists make progress in growing new human lungs
Building Living, Breathing Lungs In The Lab
Breakthrough In Lung Transplant Biomedicine
Lung-on-a-chip points to alternative to animal tests
A Chip Takes Its First Breath

/as Glenn Reynolds would say, faster please