Data stealing malware helped Israeli spies reap data from official’s laptop.
Sophos security guru Graham Cluley writes today about the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence gathering operation and how spies there gained access to a Syrian official’s laptop and uploaded a Trojan to collect data. According to German magazine Der Spiegel, the data collected using the malware helped Israeli officials plan a bombing run against a suspected Syrian nuclear facility in 2007.
According to Der Spiegel story on the Syria bombing:
The hard drive contained construction plans, letters and hundreds of photos. The photos, which were particularly revealing, showed the Al Kibar complex at various stages in its development. At the beginning — probably in 2002, although the material was undated — the construction site looked like a treehouse on stilts, complete with suspicious-looking pipes leading to a pumping station at the Euphrates.
As Clueley puts it, the Israeli operation is an example of how cyberespionage is very much happening around the world. Reports seem to trickle out a few times a year about how malware was found on government computers in the United States and abroad.
Spyware has evolved to the point where many variants remain undetectable by antivirus programs. And no doubt intelligence gathering operations around the world are using it on any systems connected to the Internet.