Gauss Virus Targets Banking System May Cause US Financial Collapse
By Susanne Posel
August 11, 2012
Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based computer security firm has found a new cyber surveillance virus that has been spying on banking transactions, stealing login information for social networks, email and instant messaging in the Middle East – specifically targeting Lebanon’s BlomBank, ByblosBank and Credit Libanais. And infected computers also include CitiGroup Inc.’s Citibank and eBay’s Paypal online paymentsystem.
This virus’ focus on online banking makes it a potential threat to banking systems worldwide. Researchers are still trying to determine if this virus is simply conducting surveillance on banking transactions or if it is being used to steal money out of targeted accounts.
Being called Gauss by the Kaspersky Lab, who confirmed that the new virus is related to Stuxnet, Flame and Duqu, yet a more sophisticated, state-sponsored cyber-espionage tool.
Researchers from the security software manufacturer Symantec Corp, confirm Kaspersky Lab’s summation that Gauss is related to previous government-created cyber warfare viruses.
Gauss is capable of being used as a weapon to attack industrial control systems, just like Stuxnet which was used to go after Iran’s Natanz nuclear power plant facility in 2010. Gauss can encrypt programs that are compressed onto a USB drive and decompress them once the virus is able to contact to a targeted computer. Kapersky Lab stated: “After looking at Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same ‘factory’ or ‘factories.’ All these attack toolkits represent the high end of nation-state-sponsored cyber-espionage and cyber war operations.”
According to Jeffrey Carr, cyber warfare expert for the security firm Taia Global , the US government has been monitoring Lebanese Banks for activity traceable to militant groups and drug cartels. Carr said: “You’ve got this successful platform. Why not apply it to this investigation into Lebanese banks and whether or not they are involved in money laundering for Hezbollah?”
US intelligence is touting that “Beirut is a hot spot for the clandestine movement of money by states” in reference to moneylaundering.