Japanese gov. + Fujitsu building "good" virus

Norm Stansfield

私は亀が好きだ。
Mar 17, 2009
15,949
4,075
328
#1
Japan reportedly has paid Fujitsu $2.3 million to build a self-replicating assassin squad -- a computer virus it can set loose in the network to track down and eliminate other viruses.
Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Defense Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute began developing the anti-viral virus in 2008. The government agency in charge of weapons development paid the heavy industries firm $2.3 million (178.5 million Yen) to create a virus that can analyze cyberattacks and even identify their source.
RELATED STORIES
Cyberbomb That Hit Iran Was 1 of 5 Weapons, Researchers Say
Iran Admits Nuclear Sites Hit by 'Duqu' Cyberweapon
Science Fiction-Style Sabotage a Fear in New Hacks

It sounds like an answer to Stuxnet or Duqu -- cyberweapons so potent that one security official called them “the hydrogen bomb of cyberwarfare.” And the cyberwar is clearly heating up, said Dave Aitel, president and CEO of security firm Immunity Inc.

“Stuxnet was just the beginning,” Aitel told FoxNews.com. “Self-replicating code is an important part of any national arsenal … the Japanese are just getting started.”

The cyberdefense tool would be able to trace an attack to its source, the paper reported, along the way disabling it and collecting key information. Such a tool is a clear escalation in online warfare, said Jeff Bardin, chief security strategist for Treadstone 71.

“The Japanese model represents a communicated and demonstrated increase in virtual arms escalation,” Bardin told FoxNews.com. “It ups the ante to a new level that may not be sustainable, especially when -- not if -- the code for the 'good' virus gets out.”

He argues that such a tool, while perhaps inevitable, may lead us into full cyberwarfare.
“The most virulent ... virtual arms will not be used unless there is either an all out cyberwar raging -- or someone wishes to start one.”

To that end, defense cybertools are a clear necessity for any nation. But are “good viruses” a good idea? A renegade virus running loose, like a ghost in the machine, may be anything from a far-fetched fantasy to a potentially very, very bad idea, others argue.

“An out-of-control 'good' virus could spread randomly or unexpectedly from machine to machine, meaning it may be hard to contain,” wrote Graham Cluey, senior technology consultant for security firm Sophos.
“All programs,
including viruses, contain bugs that can have unintended and damaging consequences," he said.
Aitel disagrees, saying the concept of "anti-viral viruses" has already proved successful in early tests.
“Our firm did some early research on self-replicating attack code which we called 'Nematodes.' And we found out that it’s not that hard to do this type of program. It’s possible to develop a controllable and effective worm," he said.

Indeed, tests of Fujitsu’s defensive cyberweapon run in closed networks in Japan confirmed its functionality, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Keio University professor Motohiro Tsuchiya, a member of a government panel on information security policy, told the paper that Japan should accelerate anti-cyberattack weapons development immediately, arguing that other countries have already launched similar projects.

Bardin agreed, arguing that all countries will find themselves forced to respond, either with defensive tools or more aggressive cyberweapons.
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/03/japan-building-vigilante-virus-police-force/

On the one hand, there are the obvious benefits. On the other, anyone who works in IT knows that the guy in the article is right: whatever new concepts they come up with will inevitably become available to the bad guys too, almost instantly, and be used to make nastier malware.

Personally, I think escalating the war is in the good guys' best interest, because, in the end, western governments and companies have far more resources available to them, and can stay ahead of organized crime and even government sponsored hackers. But there will be victims (the people who refuse to adapt to the rapidly changing advancements).
 
Jun 2, 2005
15,516
4
0
Dallas
#3
Just like in any form of warfare, technological escalation is always the right strategy. You can't just ignore that technology or technological advances exist, so if you're not escalating your understanding, you're simply giving your opponent a head start.