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Trojan Hacked Secret Data of Syrian Nuclear Reactor

A computer Trojan, utilized for intelligence purposes, reportedly revealed critical information about a secret Syrian nuclear reactor that had been demolished and put out of use. Actually, operatives of Israel intelligence agency, Mossad, planted the information collecting code on a Syrian official's laptop during his visit to London (UK), as reported by SoftPedia on November 9, 2009.

An article recently emerged in Der Spiegel (a German publication) that described the incidences, which had resulted in Israel blasting a secret Syrian nuclear reactor located in Al Kibar.

In late 2006 after finding a suitable opportunity, Israeli agents installed a Trojan virus designed to clandestinely capture data from the laptop of the Syrian official. The Trojan revealed construction plans, numerous photographs, and letters in the hard drive of the system. Notably, the photographs showed the Al Kibar compound at its different phases of construction.

Other confidential images and documents were also captured such as photographs of prominent nuclear scientist Chon Chibu of North Korea, along with the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission Director Ibrahim Othman. This intelligence collecting initiative ultimately resulted on "Operation Orchard" in which Israeli fighter planes bombed the Al Kibar infrastructure during September 2007.

The hack's description by journalists of Der Spiegel indicates that the information gathering Trojan was utilized for evading security systems so that data could be seized rather than for any other purpose such as intercepting ongoing e-mail communications.

Expressing his opinion on this point, Bruce Schneier renowned security expert said in a statement that the hack had a close resemblance with an earlier attack "evil maid" that targeted encrypted systems. In such an attack, the person who gains control of a computer temporarily can circumvent its encryption software, warns Schneier, as reported by The Register on November 6, 2009.

As per a long-standing saying which security experts often repeat regarding computer security, in case physical security is absent on a system it means that there is no security whatsoever. Thus, the particular Trojan's story illustrates the adage quite appropriately, said Internet security experts.

Related article: Trojans to Target VoIP in 2006

» SPAMfighter News - 11/19/2009

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