08:53 GMT +322 September 2018
Listen Live
    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., listens as Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham speaks defending McCain's military record during a town hall meeting at the 3 West Club to launch Graham's “No Nukes for Iran” tour Monday, July 20, 2015, in New York

    Just FYI, Mr. McCain: Any Cyber Attack Can Be Reversed – Cybersecurity Expert

    © AP Photo / Kevin Hagen
    Opinion
    Get short URL
    1391

    Recently, US Senator John McCain has suggested that his country should attack Russia with its cyberweapons to retaliate for Russia's alleged meddling in the US elections. Kevin Curran, a professor at the Cyber Security School at Ulster University explained to Sputnik why this is a bad idea for the US.

    Curran points out that being a non-expert in such things as cyberweapons, McCain misses the crucial difference between them and conventional ones; namely, that any cyberattack can be reverse engineered and later used against the aggressor.

    Curran explains that once the attack is detected, parts of its malicious codes can be obtained and later analyzed. When its underlying principles of operation are cracked by cybersecurity, it will be able to replicate the weapon and use it against the country that unleashed it.

    READ MORE: Stolen US Cyberweapons Could Spark Conflict With Rival Powers — Ex-NSA Analyst

    Curran also reminded Sputnik (and McCain) that apart from information-obtaining malware, there are also those that attack with a focus on control systems. Once they obtain control, they can manipulate physical infrastructure, such as electrical networks, railroads or water supplies. Attack on such infrastructure can have a significant negative impact, the cybersecurity expert warned.

    One of the examples of such viruses is The Flame, a malware found in 2012. The Flame was a platform designed to host various modules that can perform different tasks. The problem is that over 40 different antiviruses failed to detect The Flame when tested.

    READ MORE: British Gov't May Be Preparing Public for Cyberattack on Russia — Ambassador

    Another demonstrative example is the Stuxnet computer worm that was specifically designed by the US and Israel to infiltrate systems associated with Iranian nuclear material. It managed to find and successfully attack the country's nuclear centrifuges.

    Curran believes that organizations around the world should expect rogue states to attack their computer systems in the future, seeking information or wreaking havoc. He also thinks that states won't refrain from developing cyberweapons, noting that the US has already admitted developing both defensive and offensive models. Although the US claims to focus on defensive ones, there is no way to prove that, he added.

    "It is also incredibly difficult to estimate which countries are heavily conducting research into offensive cyberattack tools, as it is not as easy as simply counting the size of their armies or guns," Curran said.

    The expert also noted more peaceful uses for such viruses — for example, intelligence. According to him, such malware can be used "akin to spy planes."

    Related:

    McCain Calls on US to Retaliate With Cyberattack on Russia to Embarrass Putin
    British Gov't May Be Preparing Public for Cyberattack on Russia – Ambassador
    Cisco Cyberattack Targeted Russian-Language Internet Segment - Kaspersky Lab
    UK Can Cyberattack Russia Over Alleged Spy Poisoning, But Won't - Analysts
    UK May Launch Cyberattack Against Russia for Allegedly Poisoning Spy - Reports
    Tags:
    cyber weapons, cybersecurity, Stuxnet, John McCain, United States, Russia
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment