With the hyper-advanced Flame malware wreaking havoc in the Middle East, researchers are pondering if it's related to the Stuxnet worm that devastated Iranian nuclear facilities -- and trying to figure out who made the darned thing. Well, if Flame is related to Stuxnet, the second question can be answered with a fair amount of certainty, as the New York Times released a long, detailed report today claiming that Stuxnet is a joint U.S - Israeli venture created during Bush's time in office and continued by the Obama administration.
You'd think that losing an entire nation's worth of potential customers would be a bit of a downer, but EA's step is still packed with spring, swagger, and sudden stop-turns followed by that obnoxious finger gun thing people sometimes do. So, what gives? Simple: Iranian BF3 players weren't customers in the first place.
It's strongly suspected that Iranian hackers were involved in an attempt to muscle the Internet's Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which uses digital certificates to confirm identities, TGDaily reports. A successful hack of the Web's SSL would have allowed Iran to impersonate popular services and products like Google, Yahoo, Skype, Mozilla, and even Microsoft. Comodo, which is one of the firms that hands our certificates, says its computers were hacked into.
In a recent blog post, Webroot warned of a Firefox Trojan that forces the browser to save all login credentials by default and subsequently uses the stolen information to create a new user account (username: Maestro) on the compromised machine. It then sniffs out sensitive user data (data forms and login details) from the Windows Protected Storage Area. The data stolen from here is faithfully shipped out to a server once every minute.
The Trojan's author Salar “Salixem” Zeynali is an Iran-based crimeware hobbyist and heavy metal enthusiast, according to his Facebook profile. With Zeylani choosing his real name above a nom de plume to take credit for the malware, Webroot clearly didn't have to work too hard to get to him.
“His Facebook profile indicates he lives in Karaj, Iran; He sports an emo haircut, and likes heavy metal music and programming. And, apparently, Zeynali writes crimeware for fun, because he doesn’t sell his keylogger. He offers a keylogger creator tool as a free download from the message board he hangs out on,” Webroot's Andrew Brandt wrote in the blog post.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who frequent the same message board Zeynali uses to post his keylogger code, and some of those people have clearly been using the keylogger creator tool Zeynali built to create and distribute Trojans.”
According to Brandt, no AV solution can automatically fix the nsLoginManagerPrompter.js file the Trojan modifies, but it is rather easy to fix manually: download and install the latest version of Firefox on top of the existing installation.
The telecommunications agency of Iran announced on Wednesday that they have “permanently suspended” the use of Gmail. Iranians can expect a national email service (ironically) to be released soon regarding the ban.
The announcement comes, along with other reported incidents of authorities disrupting or confiscating various forms of telecommunications, including satellite dishes and cell phones. It is thought that these events might be sparked by this week’s anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, during which it is speculated the streets will fill with anti-government protestors. The U.S. State Department criticized the Iranian government for denying its people “access to information, the ability to express themselves freely, network and share ideas.”
While Google has not directly commented on the order to suspend their email service in Iran, in a recent statement Google says, “we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online. Sadly, sometimes it is not within our control.”
Twitter looks to be taking a new approach to Internet censorship. Rather than thump its chest and make big talk, like Google has done recently with China, Twitter is looking into technologies that will allow it to circumvent the censoring of Tweets. If they build a fence, Twitter seems to be saying, we won’t make them take it down, but rather will find a way around it.
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams didn’t mince words: “The most productive way to fight that is not by trying to engage China and other governments whose very being is against what we are about.” Williams is optimistic that “there are technological ways around these barriers.”
Twitter’s being closed-lipped about the actual details, for obvious reasons. Williams only suggested that Twitter’s general efforts were “interesting hacks.” No mention was made as to when and how Twitter would start its censorship counterattack.
The company has defended itself by claiming that it only furnished telecommunications equipment - freely deployed by Western democracies as well - that can only be used to intercept voice calls. It denies selling any internet technology to Iran. A spokesman for the company reassured everyone that Nokia Siemens holds its own code of conduct and international trade laws sacrosanct and acts in accordance with them.