Cyber-attacks are becoming rather commonplace in today’s world. Apart from individual hackers, acting alone or in teams of associate, cyber warfare is increasingly becoming the weapon of choice for special units formed by the armed forces and intelligence agencies by sovereign states. Hence the creation of new viruses that specifically target certain countries, as it was the case with the Stuxnet virus, that was focusing on the Iranian facilities, or the most recent Pop Spyware virus Regin that, according to Financial Times, must have been developed just like Stuxnet by Western intelligence agencies, but this time to be used against Russia and Saudi Arabia
It’s no wonder that adequate measures that would allow to counter such viruses along with ever increasing number of cyber attacks are becoming a prime concern for most any state in the world, without exception.
Thus, the development of a special “goodware” against cyber-attacks has been recently finished by Japan. This new weapon has become the result of a Japanese five-year research program that which was sponsored by the state, that had reportedly allocated 2.3 million dollars to achieve this goal.
In order to create an effective way of combating cybercrime The National Institute for Defense Studies of Japan in close collaboration with a private company Fujitsu Ltd have been developing new types of cyberweapons since 2008.The new type of virus has the ability to identify the source of a cyber attack with a high level of accuracy, then replicate itself from computer to computer, cleaning up viruses across the network. The software has reportedly been tested in closed network environment.
As noted by a number of Western cybersecurity experts, Japan’s “good virus” was not the first of its kind. Such software has already been created in the United States and China, where it has successfully undergone public tests.
One can name a virus named Cruncher, which was forcing the user to save space on his hard disk by compressing the files that it infected . Another virus – KOH, created by Mark Ludwig, also claimed the title of “goodware“, by encrypting the infected hard drive data. There’s been also the malware was designed to find child abuse images and report its discoveries to the authorities.
However, many experts believe that “goodware” is not necessarily the best tool to fight cybercrime, since it is programmed to self-replicate itself, hence it can be just as dangerous and destructive as any other cyberweapon, and public and private laboratories working on the creation of such “good viruses” may eventually become active players in today’s cyberwarfare.
Despite the claims about the defensive nature of the new Japanese cyberweapon, it presents a certain risk to users. Even a “good” virus utilizes system resources, like CPU, memory, and storage without user’s knowledge. On systems of critical importance such defensive mechanism can lead to unpredictable results.
Without proper control this “good” virus, even if was created by best developers there is, can spread across the Net with the speed of a shockwave.
Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.