Regin: Top-tier espionage tool enables stealthy surveillance

November 27, 2014 – 8:55 AM

In the world of malware threats, only a few rare examples can truly be considered groundbreaking and almost peerless. What we have seen in Regin is just such a class of malware.

Regin is an extremely complex piece of software that can be customized with a wide range of different capabilities which can be deployed depending on the target. It is built on a framework that is designed to sustain long-term intelligence-gathering operations by remaining under the radar. It goes to extraordinary lengths to conceal itself and its activities on compromised computers. Its stealth combines many of the most advanced techniques that we have ever seen in use.

The main purpose of Regin is intelligence gathering and it has been implicated in data collection operations against government organizations, infrastructure operators, businesses, academics, and private individuals. The level of sophistication and complexity of Regin suggests that the development of this threat could have taken well-resourced teams of developers many months or years to develop and maintain.

Regin is a multi-staged, modular threat, meaning that it has a number of components, each depending on others, to perform attack operations. This modular approach gives flexibility to the threat operators as they can load custom features tailored to individual targets when required. Some custom payloads are very advanced and exhibit a high degree of expertise in specialist sectors. The modular design also makes analysis of the threat difficult, as all components must be available in order to fully understand it. This modular approach has been seen in other sophisticated malware families such as Flamer and Weevil (The Mask), while the multi-stage loading architecture is similar to that seen in the Duqu/Stuxnet family of threats.

Regin is different to what are commonly referred to as “traditional” advanced persistent threats (APTs), both in its techniques and ultimate purpose. APTs typically seek specific information, usually intellectual property. Regin’s purpose is different. It is used for the collection of data and continuous monitoring of targeted organizations or individuals. This report provides a technical analysis of Regin based on a number of identified samples and components. This analysis illustrates Regin’s architecture and the many payloads at its disposal.


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