Anonymous’ latest exploits haven’t been impressive. It went after the Klu Klux Klan,
but produced only a dubious list of alleged Klansmen. It went after
Donald Trump, exposing some basic personal information and doing
absolutely nothing to his campaign.
The age of Anonymous, the years it was known for exposing
institutional corruption and taking down major government websites,
might well be over. But Anonymous’ influence reaches far beyond its own operations. The secretive hacktivist group inspired a generation of rebels ready to wreak havoc. Hollywood Leaks, Ghost Sec, Lulzsec and more are carrying the torch.
A landmark document created at the request of NATO has proposed a set of rules for how international cyberwarfare should be conducted. Written by 20 experts in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US Cyber Command, the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare analyzes the rules of conventional war and applies them to state-sponsored cyberattacks.
Unsurprisingly, the manual advises that attacks must avoid targets such as hospitals, dams, and nuclear power stations in order to minimize civilian casualties, but also makes some bold statements regarding retaliatory conduct. According to the manual’s authors, it’s acceptable to retaliate against cyberattacks with traditional weapons when a state can prove the attack lead to death or severe property damage. It also says that hackers who perpetrate attacks are legitimate targets for a counterstrike.
Project leader Professor Michael Schmitt, the Chairman of the International Law Department at the United States Naval War College, tells The Guardian that countries “can only use force when you reach the level of armed conflict,” explaining that in most cases the appropriate response to a cyberattack would be digital retaliation. “Everyone talks about cyberspace as though it’s the wild west,” says Schmitt, “we discovered that there’s plenty of law that applies to cyberspace.”
The sophisticated espionage toolkit known as Flame is directly tied to the Stuxnet superworm that attacked Iran’s centrifuges in 2009 and 2010, according to researchers who recently found that the main module in Flame contains code that is nearly identical to a module that was used in an early version of Stuxnet.
Researchers at Russia-based Kaspersky Lab discovered that a part of the module that allows Flame to spread via USB sticks using the autorun function on a Windows machine contains the same code that was used in a version of Stuxnet that was unleashed on computers in Iran in 2009, reportedly in a joint operation between the United States and Israel. The module, which was known as Resource 207 in Stuxnet, was removed from subsequent versions of Stuxnet, but it served as a platform for what would later develop into the full-fledged Flame malware that is known today.
The researchers believe the attackers may have used the Flame module to kickstart their Stuxnet project before taking both pieces of malware into different and separate directions. They’ve detailed the similarities between the modules in Flame and Stuxnet in a blog post.
“This could be in my opinion, together with the MD5 collision attack, maybe the biggest discoveries to date about Flame,” said Roel Schouwenberg, senior antivirus researcher at Kaspersky Lab. The MD5 collision attack refers to a discovery last week that Flame used a previously unknown variant of a collision attack in its efforts to sign a malicious file with a fraudulent digital certificate to trick victim machines into thinking the file was legitimate and trusted code from Microsoft.
Through the web and networks that connect us, a new form of war is being silently waged between major nations. Searching out ways to destroy networks and extract secrets, hackers are creating virtual attacks, like the STUXNET virus, which jeopardized the networks of Iranian uranium enrichment facilities.
With his new short film, Zero-Day, digital artist Mike Winkelmann(Beeple) aims to bring awareness to subject through a terrifyingly hypnotic dance of technological instruments within a network, set to the heavy electronic beats of Standingwave by Kyle Vande Slunt.
When asked what drove him to make the film, Winkelmann remarked, “This film is part of a larger ‘instrumental video’ series that I’ve been working on for the last 10+ years. The films all have extremely tightly synced audio and video. I wanted to explore the escalating tension between the U.S. and China over cyberwarfare within this framework.”
As always, Beeple provides his files for others to remix and repurpose under Creative Commons license for any commercial and non-commercial usages. His desire is that others will chime in on the issue and will utilize his work to build further awareness about cyber warfare.