Malware on a mission

Amir Fouda CA - HCL

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The consensus is in: money is one of the major factors that motivates an average malware writer. The commercial element becomes increasingly obvious the more one observes malware's evolution over the past decade, especially regarding how sophisticated, and how focused the malware's functionality is on financial gain.

But Aristotle once said 'Man is by nature a political animal'. In the current tumultuous global climate, with words like 'crisis', 'unemployment' and 'war' becoming common to all of us, there is a category of malware that is taking things in a different, political direction.

The US presidential election; the Israeli-Palestine conflict; Tibet's violent ongoing struggle for independence - just some examples of emotive world events that malware writers and 'hacktivists' have used to their advantage, either as a way to propagate their malware or to propagate their views, and in some cases, to do both.

Taking examples of malware seen in the wild, this paper focuses on social engineering techniques of a political nature that have been used by malware writers to spread their malware and their ideologies. The paper pays attention to malware with politically motivated payloads, and also touches on real-world incidents of 'hacktivism', cyber attacks made in the name of a particular creed or crusade.


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