Fact Or Fiction: The Scary Future of Hackers and Malware

With the future of technology steadily rising to include microchips in toasters and online availability of, well, everything, what is the future cost of hacker wars and malware? This Halloween, we present you with stories that might be too scary to be true. But you can be the judge of that… Chinese Shipping Infected Household Items http://www.geek.com/apps/chinese-appliances-are-shipping-with-malware-distributing-wifi-chips-1575315/ A breaking news story hit the Russian media on August 26, 2013. This story involved Russians finding hidden microchips inside of household and mobile appliances coming from China. These infected appliances apparently connected to wireless access points within a 200-foot radius. If you believe the stories, these chips were found only to be participating in a spam campaign. Certainly more dangerous stories about hardware from China have surfaced over the years, but now it’s reaching out to regular appliances. Perhaps more people need to beware the “Made In China” stamp.

Regular Malware Infecting Firmware https://plus.google.com/103470457057356043365/posts/9fyh5R9v2Ga On October 23, 2013, Dragos Riu posted an update to a story about malware he was reversing. This piece of malware was supposedly able to flash multiple pieces of firmware—from USB flash drive controllers all the way to completely changing firmware for speakers. Apparently this malware was able to use ultrasonic transmissions as a covert channel to communicate with other systems over an airgap. Is this story a subtle con used as a buildup for a coming talk, or is simply reinstalling the operating system no longer an avenue to fix a computer from even average malware? Stay tuned.

Anonymous Makes Warhead Control Code Threats In January of this year, supposed members of Anonymous hacked and defaced ussc.gov. This defacement was used to spread a message of terrorism involving access to warheads. “We have enough fissile material for multiple warheads,” the group stated. “Today we are launching the first of these. Operation Last Resort has begun.” This defacement had an encrypted file you could download called “Scalia.Warhead1,” which were apparently codes for the first of many leaked warheads. Anonymous would keep leaking this information until such demands as reform of mandatory minimum sentencing, reform of outdated and poorly envisioned legislation, and return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused. Was this used as a way to easily pass laws that treat hackers as terrorists, a joke in bad taste, or did they really intend to release warhead launch codes? You decide.