Military-Grade Malware “Regin” Linked to US and British Intelligence Agencies, Targeting Governments, Academics and Telecoms

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Lauren McCauley
Global Research
November 25, 2014

Symantec, which published a technical whitepaper on the malware Sunday, says it’s likely “one of the main cyberespionage tools used by a nation state.” (Photo: Grant Hutchinson/flickr/cc)

Security researchers have recently exposed a sophisticated new “military grade” malware program which is specifically targeting governments, academics and telecoms and, according to new reports, is suspected as being the handiwork of U.S. and British intelligence agencies.

According to security analysts with the Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab, which has been tracking the malware known as “Regin” for two years, the technology has two main objectives: intelligence gathering and facilitating other types of attacks.

Perhaps most notable, security researchers point out, is that none of the targets are based in either the U.S. or U.K. According to the Guardian, 28 percent of victims are based in Russia and 24 percent are based in Saudi Arabia. Ireland, with 9 percent of detected infections, has the third highest number of targets.

Since initial signs of the malicious software emerged in 2008, there have only been 100 or so victims uncovered globally. These include telecom operators, government institutions, multi-national political bodies, financial institutions, research institutions, and individuals involved in advanced mathematical/cryptographical research.

Described as highly complex, the malware works by disguising itself as Microsoft software and then stealing data through such channels as “capturing screenshots, taking control of the mouse’s point-and-click functions, stealing passwords, monitoring the victim’s web activity and retrieving deleted files,” according to Guardian reporter Tom Fox-Brewster.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, told Fox-Brewster that his firm does not believe Regin was made by Russia or China, “the usual suspects.” According to Fox-Brewster, this leaves the U.S., U.K. or Israel as the “most likely candidates,” an assumption that Symantec threat researcher Candid Wueest said was “probable.”

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