Rice University cyberspace expert available to comment on Gauss malware outbreak
Bronk: Malware’s sophistication indicates significant resources
HOUSTON — (Aug. 10, 2012) – Making headlines this morning is news that security researchers have uncovered new malware, likely related to the Stuxnet malware, that is aimed at clients of several Lebanese banks, as well as Citibank and PayPal.
Christopher Bronk, a fellow in information technology policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and a former U.S. State Department diplomat who specializes in cybersecurity issues, is available to comment on this discovery.
Researchers at Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab have said that Gauss, a banking Trojan, is “closely related to Flame and Stuxnet,” the latter of which is said to have disrupted an Iranian nuclear facility’s uranium enrichment equipment.
Bronk said the discovery of malware designed to potentially subvert encryption and monitor financial international financial transactions holds a number of interesting developments. “First, that financial surveillance is an important aspect of cyberespionage programs directed at the Middle East,” Bronk said. “Second, the Gauss malware is yet another sophisticated piece of malware, and sophistication indicates significant resources, including those possibly available to nation-states, contributing to its development.”
He said that geopolitically, the discovery of significant numbers of Gauss-compromised centers around Lebanon, a regional center for finance and a likely intersection of money between illicit groups, the endangered Syrian regime and others, is in itself interesting. “Taking a larger view, the fact that the International Telecommunications Union has once again worked with Russia’s Kaspersky is an indication that the ITU is expanding its role as a policeman of cyberspace. This is an interesting development in the run-up to the World Congress on Information Technology, which will be held in Dubai in December.”
To schedule an interview with Bronk, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at email@example.com or 713-348-6775.
Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute sponsors more than 20 programs that conduct research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.