Menu
Symantec identifies sophisticated, stealthy 'Regin' malware

Symantec identifies sophisticated, stealthy 'Regin' malware

The back-door-type Trojan was likely developed by a nation state, researcher say

Symantec researchers have identified a particularly sophisticated piece of malware, called "Regin" that was likely developed by a nation state and has been used to spy on governments, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers and individuals since at least 2008.

"Regin displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen," Symantec said in a statement Sunday, released along with a technical white paper about the malware. Indications are that Regin "is one of the main cyberespionage tools used by a nation state."

Researchers have identified its use in 10 countries, mainly Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as Mexico, Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan.

Regin is a back-door-type Trojan, "customizable with an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target," Symantec said, adding that "it provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance." Its development probably took months "if not years" and "its authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks."

Its first incarnation was used to spy on a number of organizations from 2008 to 2011 when it was "abruptly withdrawn," with a new version showing up last year, Symantec said. Nearly half of the Regin infections that have been identified involve private individuals and small businesses, with attacks on the telecommunication sector apparently aimed at gaining access to calls routed through that infrastructure.

The malware is a multistaged threat, with each stage hidden and encrypted, except for the first stage, execution of which initiates a domino decryption chain and loads each subsequent stage. There are five stages in total, with each offering scant information about the entire malware package, Symantec said. "Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyze and understand the threat."

Regin also takes a modular approach, so that custom features of it are specific to its targets -- an approach used with other advanced malware families, inlcuding Flamer and Weevil. The multistage loading aspect of Regin is also akin to Duqu/Stuxnet malware, the researchers said. It is likely that its development took months, if not years.

Researchers have identified dozens of payloads, with some specific and advanced payload modules found, including a Microsoft IIS Web server traffic monitor and a traffic sniffer aimed at mobile telephone base-station controllers.

"Regin is a highly complex threat which has been used in systematic data collection or intelligence gathering campaigns. The development and operation of this malware would have required a significant investment of time and resources, indicating that a nation state is responsible," Symantec said. "Its design makes it highly suited for persistent, long-term surveillance operations against targets."

Symantec further believes that "many components of Regin remain undiscovered and additional functionality and versions may exist." Researchers are continuing their analysis and will provide public updates as additional discoveries about the malware are made, the company said.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwaresymantec

Events

Why experience is the new battleground for partners

Join us for an exclusive webinar, in association with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) and learn about the latest industry insights and how technology services continue to evolve to deliver differentiated value, and how partners can be successful in 2021 and beyond.

Featured

Slideshows

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

Hundreds of leaders from the New Zealand IT industry gathered at the Hilton in Auckland on 17 November to celebrate the finest female talent in the Kiwi channel and recognise the winners of the Reseller News Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) 2020.

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards
Leading female front runners honoured at the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

Leading female front runners honoured at the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

The leading female front runners of the New Zealand ICT industry joined together for the annual Reseller News Women in ICT Awards event at the Hilton in Auckland, during which hundreds of guests celebrated 13 outstanding individuals who won awards, chosen from more than 50 finalists representing over 30 organisations.

Leading female front runners honoured at the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards
Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners

More than 500 channel leaders gathered in Auckland on 21 October at the ​Reseller News Innovation Awards ​2020 to celebrate the achievements of the New Zealand technology industry's top partners, start-ups, vendors, distributors and individuals.

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners
Show Comments