Black Hat: Expert sheds light on government sponsored malware creation

Share this article:
Black Hat: Expert sheds light on government sponsored malware creation
Black Hat: Expert sheds light on government sponsored malware creation

Parallels can be made between the nuclear arms race of the 1940s and the activities governments are currently involved in within the cyber threat landscape, according to a renown security expert.

After canceling his scheduled session at the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco, Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, has delivered some enlightening talks regarding privacy and government surveillance. 

At this year's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Hypponen gave a brief history of government sponsored malware creation and its affects on organizations and citizens today. 

"We had the nuclear arms race for decades, but now we seem to be in a cyber arms race," Hypponen said Wednesday during his talk. "The idea of democratic western governments backdooring technology or using malware and trojans against other democratic governments would've sounded like science-fiction, but that is exactly where we are today." 

While he drew the comparison of the current escalating production of government-sponsored malware to what was once the nuclear arms race, he made one distinction between the two; deterrence. 

"The power of nuclear weapons is in deterrence," he said. "You know other countries have nuclear weapons because they show them. When you blow one up, it's easy for other countries to see them." 

This is obviously not the case when it comes to the cyber realm. 

Hypponen went on to discuss the evolvement of cyber threats and how enemies have changed over the years from "kids and hobbyists" creating simple viruses and attack techniques to cyber crime gangs looking to earn money, and now governments. 

"Government activity has only been with us for 10 years," he said.

Although Hypponen stated that governments are far from being involved in what many classify as a "cyber war," he did mention that should countries utilize malware during the time of war, technically, according to the Geneva Conventions, an organization could be classified as a target.

"When I joined [F-Secure] in 1991 to analyze viruses spreading on floppy disks I didn't expect it would come to this," he said. "But that's what's happened." 

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of SC Magazine to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

TOP COMMENTS

More in News

Email promises free pizza, ensnares victims in Asprox botnet instead

Email promises free pizza, ensnares victims in Asprox ...

Cloudmark came upon an email that offers free pizza, but clicking on the link to get the coupon ends with victims being ensnared in a botnet.

Report: most orgs lacking in response team, policies to address cyber incidents

In its Q3 threat intelligence report, Solutionary learned that 75 percent of organizations it assisted had no response team or policies and procedures to address cyber incidents.

Flash redirect campaign impacts Carnegie Mellon page, leads to Angler EK

Flash redirect campaign impacts Carnegie Mellon page, leads ...

Malwarebytes found that, since early July, thousands of sites had been targeted in the campaign.