According to a report released by cyber security firm Symantec on Sunday Nov. 23, a new malware known as Regin has been collecting information on individuals, various corporations and governments.
Regin is widely considered to be a massive surveillance data collection tool, know more commonly as “spyware”. While this is not the first malware that has acted this wary it is believed that due to the sheer size and effectiveness of Regin in compromising information that it must be have been developed by a country.
According to Liam O’Murchu, a security researcher at Symantec, “We believe Regin is used primarily for espionage. We see both companies and individuals targeted. The ultimate goal is to listen in on phone calls or something like that. [Regin’s operators] target individuals and spread the attack to find whatever it is they’re looking for. All of these things together make us think that a government wrote it.”
O’Murchu also touched on why cracking Regin is so difficult, remarking that, “One of the problems we have with analyzing is we don’t have all the components,” O’Murchu said. “You only get the modules set on that [particular] victim. But we know there are far more modules than what we have here. We don’t have enough information to understand. On top of that, it’s coded in a very advanced way to leave a small footprint. Anything they leave behind is encrypted. Each part is dependent on having all the parts.”
In addition to being a difficult system to crack, Regin has taken a rather bizarre form of cyber-theft. Instead of targeting high-profile companies and targets, it attacks a variety of databases ranging from hospital records and low level computer owned by average computer users.
“The average person needs to be aware. A lot of the infections are not the final target. They are third parties providing some extra information to get to a final target. Lot of people think, ‘I don’t have anything of importance, why would anyone get on my computer?’ Ordinary people who may not think they’re targets in fact are,” remarked Muchu.