Stuxnet Variant Duqu Found Spying On European Industry. Prelude To CyberWar?

We’ve heard about the malware Stuxnet being responsible for single handedly shutting down the Iranian nuclear program .  Now a variant of Stuxnet has been found in undisclosed European industrial sites.  This variant is known as Duqu and it’s thought to be a precursor to a cyber attack.  Duqu apparently spies on the processes of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems so that when launched, a Stuxnet type attack can specifically attack certain systems.  It’s definitely not a good thing that this is being found in European systems.  The menace that Stuxnet and the new Duqu represent is real and shows a very real threat can come from the use of these programs.

Duqu used a digital certificate to gain entry as a valid driver file.  The digital certificate that was found was from a Taiwan based company called C-Media Electronics and was invalidated soon after it’s discovery.  Although it has been discovered and possibly shut down, it seems that Duqu has been in use since Dec 2010.  This is only 5 months after Stuxnet was active in Iran.  What makes it even harder to detect is the fact that Duqu deletes itself after 36 days.  There could have been many infections that have not been detected.   All this from only 300 kilobytes of data, about the same size as a quality digital picture.  No one is even sure how the Duqu program is transmitted at this point, so it’s unlikely that measures can be taken to stop infection from this spy software. 

This could be a predecessor to a global cyber war.  If you are going to make a sudden digital attack with something like Stuxnet, you would want to know exactly what systems to target for the greatest effect.  No other reason for infecting these systems in this way is apparent, other than some sort of digital blackmail.  The U.S. Pentagon has declared that any attacks by this type of malicious software may constitute and act of war including a very real military response.  That’s because the Pentagon knows exactly how deadly and effective the use of cyber attacks can be. Especially since it's thought that they may have had a role in creating Stuxnet in the first place.   This is yet another escalation in the cyber warfare that is part of the new front lines of warfare for the 21st century. 

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