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Trend Micro releases Stuxnet detection tool

Free service helps IT admin scan for worm

Trend Micro has released a tool that administrators can use to scan dozens of computers at a time for Stuxnet, the malicious software program that has raised widespread concern for its targeting of industrial systems made by Siemens.

Trend Micro's security products will detect Stuxnet, but the company decided to build a tool that would let other people not using its products detect the malware, said David Sancho, a senior researcher with Trend Micro. Administrators may also want to run the tool to verify that their security software is indeed detecting and removing the program, he said.

The Stuxnet tool can scan all computers within a specific Internet Protocol range. To find the malware, the tool transmits spoofed packets that are similar to the packets sent by the two or three Stuxnet variants. If Stuxnet is present, it will respond to the spoofed packets.

Stuxnet is a worm that was designed to infect Windows computers running Siemens WinCC SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, which are used for industrial manufacturing processes.

Researchers have had a tough time figuring out exactly what Stuxnet aimed to do once it infected those systems. But in a report released by Symantec last Friday, researchers found that Stuxnet looks for frequency converter drives, which change electrical output from a power grid to a much higher frequency.

The higher frequencies are required for processing such as in uranium enrichment. The finding gives more solid backing to theories that Stuxnet was designed by a nation-state to disrupt nuclear technology development in countries such as Iran, which reported Stuxnet infections.

But while Stuxnet is highly advanced in some ways, it also had flaws. Because it is a worm, it can spread rapidly, which is part of the reason why security researchers eventually discovered it. Months after it has been discovered, Trend Micro has found that it is still spreading, particularly on computers in places such as China where there is a lower general use of security software, Sancho said.

"We see it propagating all over the place," Sancho said. "There's a lot of people who have it."


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