Stuxnet, the first military-grade cyberweapon known to the world, has been called a digital missile and a cyber-Hiroshima bomb. But it was not a one-shot blast, new research shows. Rather, Stuxnet is part of a bigger cyberweapons system – a software platform, or framework – that can modify already-operational malicious software, researchers at two leading antivirus companies told the Monitor.
The platform appears to be able to fire and reload – again and again – to recalibrate for different targets and to bolt on different payloads, but with minimal added cost and effort, say researchers at Kaspersky Labs and at Symantec…
What each has uncovered are at least seven cyberweapon “launcher” files created from a common software platform. A launcher file is needed to stealthily insert the malicious payload (Stuxnet, for instance) onto a computer, as well as carrying the payload files and encryption keys needed to unfurl them and make them function.
All seven launcher files contain chunks of identical source code, yet differ in small but important ways, according to a Kaspersky Labs study released last week. Just two of those files are known to be used by the Stuxnet program. Two others are related to an espionage software program called Duqu, discovered last fall.