We only started hearing about computer viruses like Stuxnet and Flame in the past year or so, but serious state-sponsored cyber-spooking has been around for quite a bit longer. A Russian security firm announced today that a virus called Red October has been sucking up sensitive and classified information since 2007. The BBC has the details:
“It appears to be trying to suck up all the usual things—word documents, PDFs, all the things you’d expect,” said Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey.
“But a couple of the file extensions it’s going after are very specific encrypted files.”
In a statement, Kaspersky Labs said: “The primary focus of this campaign targets countries in Eastern Europe, former USSR Republics, and countries in Central Asia, although victims can be found everywhere, including Western Europe and North America.
“The main objective of the attackers was to gather sensitive documents from the compromised organisations, which included geopolitical intelligence, credentials to access classified computer systems, and data from personal mobile devices and network equipment.”
The virus itself is as sophisticated as Flame, which the Washington Post linked to U.S. and Israeli cyber-efforts earlier this year, but it’s unclear at this juncture who is behind it. There are several countries in the world today, including China and Russia, with both the capability and the will to build something this complex.
The full report from the security firm is due out later this week. Via Meadia will be reading. And we remind our readers that online communication and your computer’s data storage are not nearly as secure as you think.