Five year old “new” malware discovered “by Kaspersky”

Yesterday Russian security company Kaspersky has released an analysis of what it claims is previously undiscovered malware, which has come to be known as Salron. Kaspersky’s analysis is incomplete, but contains more detail than was generally available in public beforehand. They admit it’s “probably” been around for five years, and this is true; but it’s not exactly unknown. The unknown group  behind the attacks has become known as Strider, and they’re using a backdoor program called Remsec. Details of this were published by Symantec a week ago.

Kaspersky’s conclusion is that this is a “Nation State” level piece of malware. It’s possible, but other than being very competently produced, I have seen no conclusive evidence to back the claim at this stage, but there’s quite a bit that’s circumstantial. According to Symantic, it’s been used to target relatively few organisations – mostly in Russia, with a Chinese airline and an unspecified embassy located in Europe. In other words, that naughty Mr Putin is at it again. Or is it the Chinese attacking their neighbour?

Based on the public analysis, it was written by some very smart people and avoids the mistakes made in previous systems such as Stuxnet. Kaspersky points to it being a rung up the technology ladder as an indication it was another government-sponsored effort, although in practice, anyone could learn the same lessons and produce a new generation.

AV companies have been detecting this for over a week, and it hasn’t thrown up a large number of infections. This is intriguing. Also, the way it works  to circumvent very specific and uncommon high-end security software indicates its in the APT category.

Microsoft, who’s operating systems it attacks, has yet to comment.

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