The cybersecurity firm Symantec made a curious announcement over the weekend. Apparently, a highly sophisticated online spying tool has been in global circulation for about six years now - entirely undetected.
Dubbed "Regin," the malware is almost certainly an advanced cyberespionage initiative launched by a Western intelligence agency. "Its capabilities and the level of resources behind Regin indicate that it is one of the main cyberespionage tools used by a nation state," the company states in the official news release.
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Regin is described as a "back door-type Trojan" with a powerful framework for mass surveillance. It's similar to the Stuxnet worm allegedly deployed by the U.S. and Israel against Iran's nuclear centrifuge program several years ago.
This worm is a little more ambitious, though. According to the research, almost half of Regin infections were targeted at private individuals and small businesses, with another 28 percent aimed at telecom infrastructure. Symantec released a pie chart indicating that Regin has so far been discovered in at least 10 countries, and was most heavily concentrated in Russia and Saudi Arabia. (The U.S. is not on the chart.)
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So what can Regin do once it's inside a network? "The threat's standard capabilities include ... capturing screenshots, taking control of the mouse's point-and-click functions, stealing passwords, monitoring network traffic, and recovering deleted files," according to the report.
It's enough to make you paranoid, isn't it? On the off chance that it's not, you can read Symantec's entire white paper on the research. Then after that, maybe browse real estate ads for off-grid coastal villages in Nova Scotia. That's what I'm doing.