* Authorities take server image from Mumbai data center
* Mumbai server linked to hackers behind Duqu malware
* Researchers say hackers stole data from malware targets
* Researchers say data taken to help plan future attacks
By Jim Finkle and Supantha Mukherjee
Oct 28 Indian authorities are investigating a
computer server in Mumbai for links to the Duqu malicious
software that some security experts warned could be the next
big cyber threat.
Web Werks, a Mumbai-based Web-hosting company, said it had
given an image of the suspicious virtual private server to
officials from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team
(CERT-In), after security firm Symantec Corp found the
server was communicating with computers infected with the Duqu
The virtual private server was leased to a client in Milan,
Italy, according to Nikhil Rathi, founder of Web Werks. "This
is an unmanaged server. So, you just make it and let the
customer access it," he said. "When you hand over a server to a
customer, that's it, it's his. He can change his password and
do whatever he wants with it."
News of Duqu first surfaced on Oct. 18 when Symantec said in
a report that a research lab with international connections had
alerted it to a mysterious computer virus that "appeared to be
very similar to Stuxnet," a piece of malicious software
believed to have wreaked havoc on Iran's nuclear program.
Government and private investigators around the world are
racing to unlock the secret of Duqu, with early analysis
suggesting that it was developed by sophisticated hackers to
help lay the groundwork for attacks on critical infrastructure
such as power plants, oil refineries and pipelines.
The image from Web Werks, a privately held company in
Mumbai with about 200 employees, might hold valuable data to
help investigators determine who built Duqu and how it can be
used. But putting the pieces together is a long and difficult
process, experts said.
"This one is challenging," said Marty Edwards, director of
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control
Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team. "It's a very complex
piece of software."
He declined to comment on the investigation by authorities
in India, but said that his agency was working with
counterparts in other countries to learn more about Duqu.
An official in India's Department of Information Technology
who investigates cyber attacks also declined to discuss the
matter. "I am not able to comment on any investigations," said
Gulshan Rai, director of CERT-In.
UNLOCKING THE SECRET
Stuxnet is malicious software designed to target widely
used industrial control systems built by Germany's Siemens . It is believed to have crippled centrifuges that
Iran uses to enrich uranium for what the United States and some
European nations have charged is a covert nuclear weapons
Duqu appears to be more narrowly targeted than Stuxnet as
researchers estimate the new Trojan virus has infected at most
dozens of machines so far. By comparison, Stuxnet spread much
more quickly, popping up on thousands of computer systems.
Security firms including Dell Inc's SecureWorks,
Intel Corp's McAfee, Kaspersky Lab and Symantec say
they found Duqu victims in Europe, Iran, Sudan and the United
States. They declined to provide their identities.
Duqu -- so named because it creates files with "DQ" in the
prefix -- was designed to steal secrets from the computers it
infects, researchers said, such as design documents from makers
of highly sophisticated valves, motors, pipes and switches.
Experts suspect that information is being gathered for use
in developing future cyber weapons that would target the
control systems of critical infrastructure.
The hackers behind Duqu are unknown, but their
sophistication suggests they are backed by a government,
"A cyber saboteur should understand the engineering
specifications of every component that could be targeted for
destruction in an operation," said John Bumgarner, chief
technology officer for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
That is exactly what the authors of Stuxnet did when they
built that cyber weapon, said Bumgarner, who is writing a paper
on the development of Stuxnet.
"They studied the technical details of gas centrifuges and
figured out how they could be destroyed," he said.
Such cyber reconnaissance missions are examples of an
increasingly common phenomenon known as "blended" attacks,
where elite hackers infiltrate one target to facilitate access
Hackers who infiltrated Nasdaq's computer systems
last year installed malware that allowed them to spy on the
directors of publicly held companies.
In March, hackers stole digital security keys from EMC
Corp's RSA Security division that they later used to
breach the networks of defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp .
Researchers said they are still trying to figure out what
the next phase of Duqu attacks might be.
"We are a little bit behind in the game," said Don Jackson,
a director of the Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit.
"Knowing what these guys are doing, they are probably a step