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[March 09, 2014]
Cyber attacks : Virus code points to Moscow involvement [Scotland on Sunday]
(Scotland on Sunday Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A CYBER weapon known as Ouroboros has infected dozens of Ukrainian networks including government computer systems in one of the most sophisticated attacks in recent years.Experts have said the virus, named after the serpent of Greek mythology, is as sophisticated as Stuxnet, which disrupted Iran's uranium enrichment programme in 2010.Ouroboros gives its operators unlimited access to networks for surveillance purposes. However, it also acts as a highly advanced "digital beachhead". This could destroy computer networks and have wide-ranging repercussions for ordinary citizens, experts believe.It has been deployed since early last year, but only came to light following the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych's government. In the latest attack, the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform was targeted.Cyber warfare experts have warned that digital weapons could shut off water supplies, cripple banks or even blow up industrial sites that depend on computer-controlled safety programmes.The origins of Ouroboros, also known as Snake, remain unclear. But its programmers appear to have developed it in a GMT+4 timezone - which includes Moscow. Parts of the code also contain fragments of Russian text, pointing to possible Moscow involvement.Cyber-attacks were utilised heavily during Russia's 2008 conflict with Georgia.BAE Systems' cyber security unit has said that Ouroboros has been in development for nearly a decade and is too sophisticated to have been programmed by an individual or a non- state organisation."Ukraine is top of the list [of infections] and increasing," Dave Garfield, managing director for cyber security at BAE Systems told the Financial Times, adding that the instances were almost certainly "the tip of the iceberg"."Whoever made it really is a very professional outfit," Garfield said. "It has a very high level of sophistication."Nigel Inkster, former director of operations and intelligence for MI6 and now director at the think tank IISS, said it was highly likely that Russia was behind the attacks.He told the newspaper: "Until recently the Russians have kept a low profile, but there's no doubt in my mind that they can do the full scope of cyber attacks, from denial of service to the very, very sophisticated."The Ukrainian authorities said last week the country's telecommunications system had come under cyber attack, with equipment installed in Russian-controlled Crimea used to interfere with the mobile phones of members of parliament.
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