The Dangers Of The Growing Malware-Industrial Complex

Via the MIT Technology Review, Tom Simonite writes:

A freshly discovered weakness in a popular piece of software, known in the trade as a “zero-day” vulnerability, can be cashed in for prices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from defense contractors, security agencies and governments. This trade in zero-day exploits is poorly documented, but it is perhaps the most visible part of a new industry that in the years to come is likely to swallow growing portions of the U.S. national defense budget.

It became clear that this type of assault would define a new era in warfare in 2010, when security researchers discovered a piece of malicious software known as Stuxnet. Now [known] to have been a project of U.S. and Israeli intelligence, Stuxnet was carefully designed to infect multiple systems needed to access and control industrial equipment used in Iran’s nuclear program.

No U.S. government agency has gone on the record as saying that it buys zero-days. But U.S. defense agencies and companies have begun to publicly acknowledge that they intend to launch as well as defend against cyberattacks, a stance that will require new ways to penetrate enemy computers.

Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist at the ACLU, says he has spoken with people involved in the trade and that prices range from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. Even civilian law-enforcement agencies pay for zero-days, he says, in order to sneak spy software onto suspects’ computers or mobile phones.

The new focus of America’s military and defense contractors may concern some taxpayers. An escalating cycle of competition between U.S and overseas government agencies and contractors could make the world more dangerous for computer users everywhere.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    If it’s any kind of industrial complex, you can bet it’s bad news.

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    Malware & Identity Theft are here to stay!

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    Malware & Identity Theft are here to stay!

    • kowalityjesus

      Its time to find a suitable cave, before all the good ones are taken.

    • kowalityjesus

      Its time to find a suitable cave, before all the good ones are taken.

      • I_abide

        I’m offering reptilian removal and insurance for any cave purchased in the US…. excluding Arizona.

      • Anarchy Pony

        I don’t know about any caves, but there are some nice overhangs up the river.

        • kowalityjesus

          I’m going for a hunting and gathering lifestyle, like a real bear, not these suburban tourists.

          • Anarchy Pony

            Sounds like fun. The overhangs probably wouldn’t be safe in winter when the river swells. But the rest of the year they’d probably be fine.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I don’t know about the malware Industrial complex, but I am thankful for the “SPAMBOT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX” otherwise my room mates Step cousin, and Brother in Law’s best friend’s sister wouldn’t have jobs!

    • BuzzCoastin

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    • BuzzCoastin

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  • BuzzCoastin

    the other day I was reading about the Hittite Empire
    a warlike people obsessed with Homeland security and domination
    that suddenly disappeared from history around 1500 BCE
    and remained invisible for 3000 years, until rediscovered around 1900

    after years of research it was discovered that the Hittites had not been conquered
    instead rival factions vied for power and their constitution dissolved
    and they imploded into civil war at the height of their power
    and disappeared from the face of the earth

    • kowalityjesus

      Garsh, that couldn’t happen TODAY! We’re lucky that we’re so far advanced from 3000 years ago!

  • InfvoCuernos

    I had a theory that viruses were like resumes for IT security guys- if you can write a really good one then you might just get a job at an anti-virus software firm. I don’t subscribe to that theory much anymore since I found out Apple computers don’t get viruses. Apple writing PC viruses makes way more sense.

    • lazy_friend

      apple computers do get viruses, but they are only 9% of the market so not too many people bother writing them. They still vulnerabilities that can let an attacker take full control of the machine. IF there is transfer of information with the internet an exploit can be abused

    • lazy_friend

      apple computers do get viruses, but they are only 9% of the market so not too many people bother writing them. They still vulnerabilities that can let an attacker take full control of the machine. IF there is transfer of information with the internet an exploit can be abused

    • lazy_friend

      but now they are gaining in numbers in the post pc era and viruses for their computer will become more numerous

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