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Sophisticated malware finally discovered after 7 years, likely created by a nation-state

Nicole Lee, @nicole
February 11, 2014
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Security firm Kaspersky Labs recently released a research paper that uncovers the existence of a piece of highly complex malware that's been in circulation for almost seven years. It's called "The Mask," which is a rough English translation of Careto, a Spanish word for "ugly face" that was found in the malware's code. Aimed at high-level targets such as government institutions, embassies and large energy corporations, Kaspersky says "The Mask" has already claimed nearly 380 unique victims (with more than 1,000 IPs) in 31 countries that include China, France, Germany, the UK and the US. Kaspersky first spotted it in a spear phishing email campaign that entices the recipient over to malicious websites disguised as news sites like The Guardian and the Washington Post.

Kaspersky reports that the malware is extremely sophisticated, with a set of tools that include a rootkit, a bootkit, versions that'll affect 32- and 64-bit Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and possibly even mobile operating systems like Android and iOS. Once it gets its hooks into your system, it can be used to hijack all your communication channels and snatch everything from Skype conversations to sensitive encryption keys. It's also very difficult to detect. Due to the level of finesse found in the malware, Kaspersky concludes that "The Mask" was very likely created by a nation-state, much like Stuxnet and Duqu. As to which nation-state that is, the security firm doesn't know, but says it's probably one that is Spanish-speaking based on the code's language. Intrigued? Go on and hit the PDF link here to get the full rundown of what Kaspersky discovered.

In this article: careto, kasperskylabs, malware, themask
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