The Return Of A Computer-Destroying Worm?


Ivan Kwiatkowski recognizes it: this prediction is more speculative, and we frankly hope that it will not happen. But to believe the statistics, the GReAT researchers believe that next year could sign the return ” of the most dangerous vulnerabilities in the world, those which allow access to a remote computer without preconditions, and which in addition have the particularity of being able to be automated. »

We have seen such a scenario several times, but the most recent dates back to May 2017. At the time, hackers released a ransomware self-replicating dubbed WannaCry and caused panic around the world. Hundreds of thousands of computers had given up the ghost in a few hours. Hospitals, companies – like Renault, in France – had been seriously affected. Based on tools stolen from the NSA, this powerful malware was not only able to encrypt the contents of a disk, but also to then replicate itself on other machines.

A catastrophe that the war in Ukraine could favor, in a scenario close to that followed by the Shadow Brokers, these mysterious pirates who at the time had “leaked” powerful American hacking tools. ” Heightened political tensions increase the risks of an information warfare event. State attackers can hack into the other side’s tools, then leak them onto the internet to harm them, allow defenders to detect them, and ultimately accuse their adversary of irresponsibly manipulating those vulnerabilities.” explains Ivan Kwiatkowski.

Data leaks organized by States

This is a technique now widely used among cybercriminals specializing in ransomware : encrypt the data, then publish it if the victim does not pay the ransom. Kaspersky believes that state hackers could well learn from this method of “ hack and leak not to pressure a victim, but for political destabilization. ” In the context of the war in Ukraine, it is extremely likely that hacking operations will take place not for espionage purposes, but rather to disseminate information” says Ivan Kwiatkowski. Information that could, in addition, be slightly modified, distorted, by the attacker to be more “crisp” and do maximum harm to the victims.

Hidden malware, distributed by the network

Remember, it was eight years ago when Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA’s spying capabilities and its many global surveillance tools. Among these, Quantum described a technology worthy of an Orwell novel, capable, in all discretion, of depositing malware on millions of machines. All this while taking advantage of strategically placed servers, sometimes directly with the operators, distributing infected Web pages to victims surfing on a legitimate site. ” That’s what they were able to do back then, ten years ago, and we think it’s been long enough for all the sophisticated attackers to have been able to replicate the same thing.” details the Kaspersky researcher. He specifies that his company has already, in 2022, spotted WinDealer, a virus of this type (known as man-on-the-side in the jargon) from a group of hackers based in China.

This technique is worrying because it is very difficult to spot and thwart: “I really think we’re going to find more malware no longer distributed in a traditional way (phishing, spoofed attachments, etc.) but like this, without any user interaction. It is one of the most powerful vectors imaginable”.

Drones, a pirate’s best friend

Should we also worry about drones, which are less and less expensive and more and more efficient in terms of autonomy and carrying capacity? Ivan Kwiatkowski thinks so: “ It is easy to equip these drones with malicious Wi-Fi access points, to equip them with USB keys to drop them in secure enclosures, to make them fly over an area with a small IMSI catcher”. Discreet, difficult to intercept, they could easily help hackers penetrate computer systems by getting as close as possible to their target.

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