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From: InfoSec News (alertsinfosecnews.org)
Date: Fri Aug 10 2012 - 04:21:30 CDT
By Dan Goodin
Aug 9, 2012
Researchers have uncovered yet another state-sponsored computer
espionage operation that uses state-of-the-art software to extract a
wealth of sensitive data from thousands of machines located mostly in
the Middle East.
"Gauss," as Kaspersky Lab researchers have dubbed the malware, was
devised by the same "factory" or "factories" responsible for the Stuxnet
worm used to disrupt Iran's nuclear program, as well as the Flame and
Duqu Trojans. Some researchers say the latter two malware titles may
have provided the reconnaissance needed for operations such as Stuxnet.
Gauss is known to have infected 2,500 computers connected to Kaspersky's
cloud-based security system, and researchers with the firm say tens of
thousands of additional machines may also be affected. The highest
concentration of attacks are found in Lebanon, followed by Israel and
the Palestinian territories.
"The discovery of Gauss indicates that there are probably many other
related cyber-espionage malware in operation," Kaspersky researchers
wrote in a 48-page report published Thursday morning (a condensed blog
post is here). "The current tensions in the Middle East are just signs
of the intensity of these ongoing cyber-war and cyber-espionage
Like Duqu and Flame, Gauss is highly modular, and it shares a "fair deal
of code" with Flame. Its developers failed to remove debugging
information before unleashing the malware, however, allowing researchers
to uncover details about the computers used to develop the malware. A
version developed in December and January, for instance, resided in the
Windows directory c:\documents and
settings\flamer\desktop\gauss_white_1, providing another clue it has
close ties to Flame, which is also known as Flamer and didn't come to
light until May. Gauss and Flame also share a similar command and
control infrastructure, code references, and encryption subroutines.
Gauss, which appears to be an homage to the German mathematician and
scientist Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, comes from the name one of the
developers gave to the main module. Developers appear to have named
other modules after famous mathematicians and philosophers Kurt Godel
and Joseph-Louis Lagrange.