Techniques used in sophisticated, state-supported malware for politically-motivated espionage and sabotage are being copied by less-skilled hacker groups who target regular Web users for personal accounts and credit card numbers, Technology Review reports.
This raises questions about whether the deployment of computer viruses by government entities to target enemy networks is giving hacktivist groups ammunition and making the digital domain a more complicated place.
State-sponsored "cyberweapons and targeted attacks now give us some insight into what will be coming into the mainstream," Roel Schouwenberg, a Kaspersky Lab researcher, told the publication, adding that exploits can be imitated by others.
For example, the Stuxnet worm that targeted Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities and is widely believed to be the handiwork of U.S. and Israeli entities, installed fake device drivers using digital security certificates stolen from Taiwanese firms, allowing them to bypass security software. Other viruses now employ fake certificates in a similar way to get past the glare of antivirus programs, according to the report.