Security Market Segment LS
Saturday, 27 March 2021 07:45

Google's triumphant 11 zero-day report exposed govt operation: claim Featured

Google's triumphant 11 zero-day report exposed govt operation: claim Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Google has caused an anti-terrorist operation being run by a Western Government which is an ally of the US to be shut down by revealing details about the use of zero-day exploits in the campaign.

The Silicon Valley giant did not attribute the attack and left out many crucial details from its reports, which appear to have been issued to burnish its security credentials given the level of sophistication involved in the attacks.

A report in the Technology Review site said the decision to publicise this campaign had caused internal divisions at Google and also raised questions among American intelligence services.

Security firms studiously avoid mention of nation-state cyber operations launched by US agencies after one company, Kaspersky, paid a heavy price for doing so.

The American Government blocked it from doing business with the public service after reports appeared in the mainstream press claiming the firm had some connection to the Shadow Brokers, a group that leaked a number of exploits from the NSA in 2016/17.

But Kaspersky then made what could be interpreted as a parting shot, publicising an operation known as Slingshot during its annual Security Analysts Summit in Cancun in 2018.

It came to light later that the operation was a US military program run by the Joint Special Operations Command, a part of the Special Operations Command. Slingshot was apparently used by US military and intelligence personnel to collect information about terrorists.

Google did not provide key details about the exploits, leading veteran security writer Ryan Naraine to gripe: "Google did not release IOCs (indicators of compromise) to help malware hunters look for signs of this actor in their networks. No hashes. No information on the watering hole domains. No technical details on the exploit servers. No YARA rules. No IDS signatures. No victim profile or geographic distribution. Nothing, actually.

"Google essentially flexed about its visibility into this APT's arsenal and infrastructure and told the rest of us that there are super-adversaries roaming around our devices, and there's nothing we can do about it.

"We need to be demanding better. At a minimum, these higher-impact threat-intel reports should include IOCs and YARA rules. Otherwise, we should treat them simply as the marketing reports they are."

Naraine now has his answer as to why Google kept back all these details.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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