Everyone is expecting Russia to attack Ukrainian computer systems, but the truth may be that they have been doing so right along. One alleged Russian based cyber espionage tool named “Snake” has been active in the Ukraine and other places (even the US) since 2005.
Snake is named after Ouroboros in Ancient Greek mythology, and it was usually displayed as a snake or a dragon eating its own tail. The inference is that of something that is constantly re-creating itself.
Snake infections have been located in several countries – the US Department of Defense have been breached by an earlier version of the program. But as of 2013, the espionage tool usage seems to be aggressively targeting systems in the Ukraine:
BAE systems have recently released a report on Snake. According to the report, the tool seems to have originated from a nation that could fund sophisticated and expensive attack tools.
Martin Sutherland, Managing Director, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence said, “What this research once more demonstrates, is how organised and well-funded adversaries are using highly sophisticated tools and techniques to target legitimate organisations on a massive scale.”
And, “Although there has been some awareness of the Snake malware for some years, until now the full scale of its capabilities could not be revealed, and the threat it presents is clearly something that needs to be taken much more seriously.”
Snake allows remote access to an infected system, can hide and ex-filtrate pilfered data, seeks to infect other systems, uses stealthy communication techniques, has a rootkit section and can even bypass security features of 64 bit Windows systems.
A couple tell tail clues found during analysis, including time zone information and the language used in some lines of code seem to point to Russia as the tool creator. And with he increased attacks on the Ukraine within the last year makes Russia look even more the culprit.
BAE System’s report covers:
- How the malware communicates,
- The distinctive architectures which have evolved over the years,
- The use of novel tricks to by-pass Windows security,
- How it hides from traditional defensive tools.
Check out the full report on BAE’s website.