Cut-price Stuxnet successors possible: Kaspersky

The complex Stuxnet worm, which some allege was designed by US and Israeli government agents to cripple Iranian nuclear technology, could be re-engineered at far less expense by civilian hackers to inflict more general damage, says anti-malware company founder Eugene Kaspersky.

"According to information [gleaned] from the code, we understand this is high-end malware," Kaspersky says "To develop such malware needs a million dollar budget. I'm afraid it's quite obvious that this malware is not done by ordinary cyber-criminals."

"Media sources [also] allege this was done by governments, by secret services in the US and Israel. It looks like that," he says, but he can't say for certain; "the secret services don't report to us."

Stuxnet used a specific set of software vulnerabilities, which have now been repaired. But this would not stop an adaptation of the malware being used, he says. "It's quite easy to disassemble the code to discover how it works, to extract the components and to redesign the same idea in a different way. I'm afraid this is just the beginning of a new era; the era of cyber-wars and cyber-sabotage."

Kaspersky spoke with Computerworld from Melbourne last week, where he was attending the Australian Grand Prix. Kaspersky sponsors the Ferrari Formula 1 motor-racing team. The cars bear its logo and it has released a version of its anti-malware products with Ferrari's characteristic red in the marketing livery and a digital racing simulator bundled in.

"Customers will enjoy high-level security - which is almost invisible, running in the background - and at the same time they can drive the virtual Formula 1 car on the virtual track," Kaspersky says.