Spyware Effort Against US, EU Uncovered; Most Sophisticated Yet

As the electronic battlefields of tomorrow unfold, a little-known piece of sophisticated spyware has been hacking into government computers across Europe and the US in what is being described as the most complex cyber espionage programs to date.

Spyware Effort Against US, EU Uncovered; Most Sophisticated Yet

Experts think spyware is handiwork of Russians

Western intelligence sources believe the malware, which goes by the name Turla, is the handiwork of the Russian government, according to a Reuters report.  Based on tactics, technical indicators and the victims targeted, intelligence officials believe the computer virus is similar to that used in a 2008 massive breach on the U.S. military attributed to Russia, but such claims are not confirmed. The report cited experts saying Russian government-backed hackers have a reputation as being highly disciplined, adept at hiding their tracks, extremely effective at maintaining control of infected networks and more selective in choosing targets than their Chinese counterparts.

“It is sophisticated malware that’s linked to other Russian exploits, uses encryption and targets western governments.  It has Russian paw prints all over it,” Jim Lewis, a former U.S. foreign service officer, now senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, was quoted as saying.

Spyware threat raises the bar 

“The threat… really does raise the bar in terms of what potential targets, and the security community in general, have to do to keep ahead of cyber attacks,” Martin Sutherland, managing director of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, was quoted as saying.

News of the cyber spying episode came from a little known German anti-virus firm, G Data, that published a report on the virus, which it called Uroburos, which likely references a Greek symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail.

One security expert was quoted as saying the hackers “know that most people don’t have either the technical knowledge or the fortitude to win a battle with them. When they recognize that someone is onto them, they just go dormant.” A former Western intelligence official was quoted as saying. “They can draw on some very high grade programmers and engineers, including the many who work for organized criminal groups, but also function as privateers.”

Russia’s Federal Security Bureau declined comment as did officials at the Pentagon and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.



About the Author

Mark Melin
Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)valuewalk.com