Virus Protection Scholarship Essay

Since the discovery of Stuxnet, hackers worldwide have had unlimited access to the
revolutionary cyber weapon and have been enable to develop their own weapons based on the Stuxnet blueprint. One derivative of Stuxnet is Duqu, an advanced piece of malware that invaded five Europe-based manufacturers of industrial control systems in 2011. The malware has a number of similarities with Stuxnet. It’s zero-day exploit code, encryption keys, and drivers are very similar to Stuxnet. Unlike Stuxnet, Duqu is designed to delete itself after 36 days. There are two strains of Duqu and they both enable a remote access tool which “allows the malware to take control of the computer and begin communication with a command-and-control hub.” Duqu is said to have targeted a number of Western organizations and entities in the Middle East and Asia. While the purpose appears to be economic or political, it is hard to discern the origins of Duqu, which like Stuxnet, uses a legitimate digital certificate that is issued by Taiwanese-based company.1
Given the level of sophisticated technology that has evolved since Stuxnet, it has become
easier for individuals to create viruses and worms with similar Stuxnet capabilities. Evidenced by the tangible damage Stuxnet caused at an Iranian nuclear facility in 2007, viruses can severely damage critical infrastructure. The technology used to power our financial institutions and economy are no exception. A distributed denial of service attack or DDoS could seriously cripple our ability to use the very technology that was created to advance our economy. The success of an economy is determined by the health of various financial institutions and practices, all of which can be vulnerable to a viral attack. The banking industry, stock exchange, general commerce, etc. are all dependent upon some type of information technology that can be hacked and manipulated. If the technology used to trade stocks on Wall Street was jeopardized and led to a shutdown, negative domestic and foreign perception of U.S. financial cybersecurity could reduce any overall optimism in the U.S. economy. The same pattern could occur within other institutions, demonstrating how viruses could negatively impact the economy.