Even when the general public isn’t aware of malware, security companies are working around the clock to make sure that attacks don’t happen. Companies like Kaspersky make it their mandate to protect the world from malware attacks. Lately, though, malware has become target-specific. So specific, in fact, that Kaspersky security researchers (in conjunction with other firms) have uncovered two strains of malware that take aim at Uyghur activists (as originally reported by The Verge).
In case global politics isn’t your thing, Uyghur activists tend to fight for human rights and are often targeted as enemies of the Chinese state. The two strains of malware that have been uncovered impact both Mac OS X and Windows. In order to lure users into infecting systems with this malware, the virus sends a photo of activism to certain targets and encourages those targets to download an attached file, which, of course, contains the virus. The fact that this virus is downloaded via email isn’t anything new, but it is somewhat surprising that two malware strains are targeted in such a specific manner. Even more interesting is that Kaspersky has traced the malware origin back to main land China.
Links to the Flame Virus
There have been a lot of interesting developments within the virus world lately, and one of the most recent types came in the name of “Flame.” The Flame virus attacked many systems in the Middle East, and it was later determined that this virus was developed by individuals within the United States and Israel. As with the virus that Kaspersky found to be attacking Uyghur activists, the Flame virus was meant to ruin the systems of Middle Eastern activists.
It’s interesting to note that viruses have become so specific and destructive that countries are now attacking activists by using malware. In many ways, it seems as though controlling activism has gone from using physical and violent forces to using the Internet. After all, wiping out the systems used by an entire activist network will cause chaos in all kind of ways. The trick then, on the part of the activists, is to never open an attachment, which is much easier said than done. Many activists rely on inside information that comes in the form of an email attachment, so not opening up this kind of email could mean missing out on an important bit of information.
Random Users Are Immune Either
Not only can those who are not activists become targeted by malware strikes, but those creating certain viruses may make the mistake of putting someone on the “attack” list who isn’t an activist at all. Of course, regular malware attacks and viruses are also prevalent within today’s world, and it does seem like (more and more) nobody is truly immune to malware of any kind.
What lesson can be learned from all of these contrived malware attacks? Nobody is safe from a virus of any kind, and systems must be protected now more than ever. In addition, anyone who uses any kind of network should be aware of dangerous email attachments – and ignore those attachments when possible.