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Virus Bulletin news

Paper: On the beat

Kevin Williams looks back at UK law enforcement successes at combating cybercrime.

In a recent Throwback Thursday article, we looked back at the sentencing of self-confessed virus writer Christopher Pile almost 20 years ago. Pile was the first person in the UK to be given a custodial sentence for writing and distributing computer viruses.

He was, of course, not the last. Today, we publish an article by Kevin Williams of TC-UK, who looks back at a number of successes of the UK's Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU), which he helped set up in 2008. The PCeU's investigations led to the arrest of several individuals involved in computer crime and, as part of international operations involving security firms and foreign law enforcement agencies, the takedown of a number of botnets.

In 2013, the PCeU merged into the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), which is part of the National Crime Agency (NCA).

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Throwback Thursday: Research and Other Hobbies

This Throwback Thursday we reflect on the life of one of industry's greats, who sadly passed away this week: Prof. Klaus Brunnstein.

Professor Klaus Brunnstein was one of the biggest names in anti-virus resarch, a pioneer in the field, and a man whose career was never short of either controversy or success. We were greatly saddened to learn of his death yesterday, and in honour of a man who contributed so much to the industry, we decided to take another look at an interview with Prof. Brunnstein -- in April 1996, VB spoke to him about his background, his career, his views and his home life.

Read the article here in HTML-format, or download it here as a PDF (no registration or subscription required).

Weak keys and prime reuse make Diffie-Hellman implementations vulnerable

'Logjam' attack possibly used by the NSA to decrypt VPN traffic.

A group of researchers have discovered a number of vulnerabilities in the way the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol is deployed and have demonstrated an attack (dubbed ' Logjam') that exploits these vulnerabilities.

Diffie-Hellman is used by two entities (typically referred to as Alice and Bob) to agree on a secret key over a public channel. This key can then be used to encrypt and decrypt data using a much faster symmetric key algorithm, such as AES, 3DES or the now obsolete RC4. The protocol is widely used, for instance in SSL/TLS.

To use the protocol, Alice and Bob agree on a (large) prime number, p, and a 'base', g, which is a number taken modulo p and which satisfies certain conditions.

Alice and Bob choose secret numbers, a and b, respectively. Alice computes g a, while Bob computes g b; these results are then exchanged over a public channel. Alice then uses her secret key a to compute (g b) a, and likewise, Bob computes (g a) b. Both numbers are equal to g ab, which is used as a secret key.

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Virus Bulletin announces student tickets for VB2015

87% discount for students and the option to give a lightning talk.

A few weeks ago, we opened registration for VB2015, which will take place in Prague from 30 September to 2 October.

Today, we are pleased to announce a generous offer for students: those in full-time education can attend the 25th Virus Bulletin Conference for just $250 (+21% Czech VAT). That's a discount of almost 87%!

Attending the Virus Bulletin conference is an excellent way to learn about the threats that matter from the experts that have researched them. With talks on highly targeted APT campaigns, large-volume botnets, tools that make researchers' lives easier and many other subjects, the programme is filled with excellent papers.

The conference is as much about learning as it is about sharing, and we are offering students the opportunity to share the research they have performed in five-minute 'lightning talks'. These talks will take place on Friday morning in a third stream of 'Small Talks'. (Look out for an announcement about what other exciting things are taking place in this stream soon!)

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Throwback Thursday: Double Trouble / The Perfect Couple

Once again this Throwback Thursday, we bring you not one but two (related) pieces from the archives as VB heads back to the mid-90s when a new era of viruses was believed to be dawning.

In general, the experts of the anti-malware industry get things more or less right. Predictions may take longer to come to fruition than expected, or may not be quite as game-changing as expected, but by and large, the experts in this industry have a good feel for the way things will go -- whether a new threat will become widespread, whether infections on a new platform will take off, and so on.

However, the mid-90s saw what experts at the time believed was the beginning of a new era of viruses, when two 'multicellular' (not to be confused with multipartite) viruses appeared. These viruses each had two components ('odd' and 'even', or 'male' and 'female'), which both needed to be present in order for successful infection to take place.

The first virus of this type, Dichotomy, had 'odd' and 'even' components. When a file infected with the 'odd' component was executed, the virus looked for a file infected with 'even' code, installing itself into memory only if that part was found. A little later on came RMNS, the two parts of which ('male' and 'female') installed themselves into memory independently of each other, but infection could only take place if both sections of the code were resident in memory at the same time and on the same computer.

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