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Home » Hacking News » New Threat to Computers from Hackers

New Threat to Computers from Hackers

by platon on July 12th, 2001 Computer hackers have added another new weapon to their arsenal of tricks - a self-disguising programme which breaks secret codes and cannot be detected. Days after teenage hacker Raphael Gray escaped jail for stealing Bill Gates' credit card details and sending him Viagra - using a simple oe700 personal computer - it has emerged that notorious cyber-guerilla K2 has developed a new tactic.

Dubbed the "chameleon code", the programme cracks networks by sending out instructions known as scripts which let the hacker issue commands remotely.

The polymorphic code disguises scipts so they cannot be detected.

From the comfort of his own bedroom the hacker can breach any computer network, transfer funds or steal vital information - and then exit the system without trace.

Expert hacker K2 - the Vancouver based cyber-guerilla who developed a version of polymorphic code to highlight the weaknesses of networks - claims there is no way to defend against camouflaged script.

And the programme he developed is "probably" being used by other hackers to gain access to company networks, he told the New Scientist.

He explained: "Every execution will be unique. It doesn't quite change the script because each line of code will equate to the same function.

"It's the equivalent of changing 4+1 to 2+3. They both equal 5 but look completely different to a signature-recognising programme.

Intruder detection systems are installed by computer network managers to identify hackers.

They work by scanning network activity to find known characteristics of hacking scripts - but they have so far been unable to pick up the new code, said K2.

"I have tried it out on lots of systems. All the major intruder detection systems were unable to detect it," he said.

But Graham Cluley, an authority on protecting software from hackers, said the technique had been known to anti-virus programmers "for years."

"There is a perception that hackers are geniuses, but most of them are not. They are just guys with pony-tails in bedrooms who think they are really cool.

"The real experts are the ones who are working on computer security for the big companies, not the lads in bedrooms wearing Iron Maiden Tee-Shirts," he said.

"The camouflage code is just code which knows to change its appearance. It's like when kids in the classroom want to hide a conversation from the teacher and swap certain letters in the alphabet round to confuse them.

"The difficulty for hackers is that every code must have the decryptor contained within it, otherwise it is just a load of gobbledy gook.

"A skilled anti-virus programmer should be able to create a programme to discover the decryptor in these codes in a weekend," he said.

But Peter Sommer, a computer security expert at the London School of Economics, warned: "The idea has been known about in computer security circles - it has just been a question of when it would arrive.

"But then how do you know about something that is not detectable?" he said.

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