PanamaTimes

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Snake - Russia's Most Advanced Cyber Espionage Tool And Why It's So Dangerous

Snake - Russia's Most Advanced Cyber Espionage Tool And Why It's So Dangerous

The malware in question is Snake, a cyber espionage tool deployed by Russia's Federal Security Service that has been around for about 20 years.

Like most people I check my emails in the morning, wading through a combination of work requests, spam and news alerts peppering my inbox.

But yesterday brought something different and deeply disturbing. I noticed an alert from the American Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) about some very devious malware that had infected a network of computers.

The malware in question is Snake, a cyber espionage tool deployed by Russia's Federal Security Service that has been around for about 20 years.

According to CISA, the Snake implant is the “most sophisticated cyber espionage tool designed and used by Center 16 of Russia's Federal Security Service for long-term intelligence collection on sensitive targets”.


The stealthy Snake


The Russian Federal Security Service developed the Snake network in 2003 to conduct global cyber espionage operations against NATO, companies, research institutions, media organisations, financial services, government agencies and more.

So far, it has been detected on Windows, Linux and macOS computers in more than 50 countries, including Australia.

Elite Russian cyber espionage teams put the malware on a target's computer, copy sensitive information of interest and then send it to Russia. It's a simple concept, cloaked in masterful technical design.

Since its creation, Russian cyber spies have regularly upgraded the Snake malware to avoid detection. The current version is cunning in how it persistently evades detection and protects itself.

Moreover, the Snake network can disrupt critical industrial control systems that manage our buildings, hospitals, energy systems, water and wastewater systems, among others – so the risks went beyond just intelligence collection.

There are warnings that in a couple of years bad actors may gain the capability to hijack critical Australian infrastructure and cause unprecedented harm by interfering with physical operations.

Snake hunting


On May 9, the US Department of Justice announced the Federal Bureau of Investigation had finally disrupted the global Snake peer-to-peer network of infected computers.

The covert network allowed infected computers to collect sensitive information. The Snake malware then disguised the sensitive information through sophisticated encryption, and sent it to the spy masters.

Since the Snake malware used custom communication protocols, its covert operations remained undetected for decades. You can think of custom protocols as a way to transmit information so it can go undetected.

However, with Russia's war in Ukraine and the rise in cybersecurity activity over the past few years, the FBI has increased its monitoring of Russian cyber threats.

While the Snake malware is an elegantly designed piece of code, it is complex and needs to be precisely deployed to avoid detection. According to the Department of Justice's press release, Russian cyber spies were careless in more than a few instances and did not deploy it as designed.

As a result, the Americans discovered Snake, and crafted a response.


Snake bites


The FBI received a court order to dismantle Snake as part of an operation code-named MEDUSA.

They developed a tool called PERSEUS that causes the Snake malware to disable itself and stop further infection of other computers. The PERSEUS tool and instructions are freely available to guide detection, patching and remediation.

The Department of Justice advises that PERSEUS only stops this malware on computers that are already infected; it does not patch vulnerabilities on other computers, or search for and remove other malware.

Even though the Snake network has been disrupted, the department warned vulnerabilities may still exist for users, and they should follow safe cybersecurity hygiene practices.


Snake bite treatment


Fortunately, effective cybersecurity hygiene isn't overly complicated. Microsoft has identified five activities that protect against 98% of cybersecurity attacks, whether you're at home or work.

1. Enable multi-factor authentication across all your online accounts and apps. This login process requires multiple steps such as entering your password, followed by a code received through a SMS message – or even a biometric fingerprint or secret question (favourite drummer? Ringo!).

2. Apply “zero trust” principles. It's best practice to authenticate, authorise and continuously validate all system users (internal and external) to ensure they have the right to use the systems. The zero trust approach should be applied whether you're using computer systems at work or home.

3. Use modern anti-malware programs. Anti-malware, also known as antivirus software, protects and removes malware from our systems, big and small.

4. Keep up to date. Regular system and software updates not only help keep new applications secure, but also patch vulnerable areas of your system.

5. Protect your data. Make a copy of your important data, whether it's a physical printout or on an external device disconnected from your network, such as an external drive or USB.

Like most Australians, I have been a victim of a cyberattack. And between the recent Optus data breach and the Woolworths MyDeal and Medibank attacks, people are catching on to just how dire the consequences of these events can be.

We can expect malicious cyberattacks to increase in the future, and their impact will only become more severe. The Snake malware is a sophisticated piece of software that raises yet another concern. But in this case, we have the antidote and can protect ourselves by proactively following the above steps.

If you have concerns about the Snake malware you can read more here, or speak to the fine folks at your IT service desk.The Conversation

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
El Salvador's Bitcoin Holdings Reach $350 Million
Teens Forming Friendships with AI Chatbots
WhatsApp Rolls Out Major Redesign
Neuralink's First Brain Implant Experiences Issue
Apple Unveils New iPad Pro with M4 Chip, Misleading AI Claims
OpenAI to Announce Google Search Competitor
Apple Apologizes for Controversial iPad Pro Ad Featuring Instrument Destruction
German politician of the AFD party, Marie-Thérèse Kaiser was just convicted & fined $6,000+
Changpeng Zhao Sentenced to Four Months in Jail
Biden Administration to Relax Marijuana Regulations
101-Year-Old Woman Mistaken for a Baby by American Airlines: Comical Mix-Up during Flight Check-in
King Charles and Camilla enjoying the Inuit voice singing performance in Canada.
New Study: Vaping May Lower Fertility in Women Trying to Get Pregnant
U.S. DOJ Seeks Three-Year Sentence for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao
Headlines - Thursday, 23 April 2024
Illinois Woman Wins $45M Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson and Kenvue for Mesothelioma Linked to Baby Powder
Panama's lates news for Friday, April 19
Creative menu of a Pizza restaurant..
You can be a very successful player, but a player with character is another level!
Experience the Future of Dining: My Visit to an AI-Powered Burger Joint
Stabbing rampage terror attack in Sydney, at least four people killed, early reports that a baby was among those stabbed.
Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight. Israel Reports Light Damage After Iran Launches Large Strike.
I will never get enough of his videos and the pure joy and beauty of these women!!
Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed an "invisibility cloak", for AI using adversarial patterns on a sweater, making the wearer nearly undetectable to standard object detection methods.
Lamborghini Bids Farewell to Its Best-Selling Sports Car: The Huracán
Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals 25-Year Prison Sentence for $8bn FTX Fraud
OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star who was acquitted of murder, dies aged 76
British Backpacker Imprisoned in Notorious Bolivian Prison: Family Raises Funds for Legal Fight and Essentials
Argentina: Venezuela Cuts Power to Embassy after Opposition Meeting
El Salvador Offers 5,000 Passports to Skilled Foreign Workers: Tax-Free Relocation and Citizenship
Panama Papers Trial Begins: Founders of Mossack Fonseca Face Money-Laundering Charges
75 Becomes the New 65: Retiring in Your 60s Unrealistic as Life Expectancy Increases and Costs Rise
Total Solar Eclipse of 2021: 32 Million Witness the Mystical, $1.5bn Spectacle Sweep Across North America
New shopping experience…
New world, new reality, let’s get used to it
UK Company Passes Milestone in Developing Space-Based Solar Power, Aiming to Power a Million Homes and Provide Constant Energy
Mexico Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador after Police Storm Embassy, Arrest Former Vice President
Monty Python were so ahead of their time
If there's a will, there's a way!
Rules about how to dress are important, but not so much if you have a lot of money.
Body Armor Firm Showcases Stab-Proof Vest in Demo on CEO
Mexico Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador After Embassy Stormed in Quito
Here is a tattoo idea, for engineers
Zoraya Ter Beek, a 28-year-old woman from the Netherlands, will undergo euthanasia in May due to severe mental health challenges
Here's a video featuring Fidel Castro, where he discusses his stance against war and his commitment to preserving life, positions that have put him at odds with the USA:
Woman reaches behind and steals gun from a security guard and shoots three people while getting detained in Chile
Take a walk around the safe and thriving downtown San Salvador.
Joe Biden criticised by Trump campaign for declaring Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday
Macron says France will help Brazil develop nuclear-powered submarines
A video demonstrating women's self defense class in 1930
×