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24 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Foreign ministers and other delegates at the Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna

Foreign ministers and other delegates at the Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Iran nuclear talks likely to be extended, diplomats say

Negotiations may resume next month if deal unable to be reached in Vienna over uranium enrichment and sanctions

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Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice, 12, was shot dead after officers responded to a 911 call about someone waving a ‘probably fake’ gun. Photograph: Facebook

Cleveland boy’s fatal shooting prompts call for fake guns to be brightly marked

A legislator plans to introduce legislation to require all BB guns, air rifles and airsoft guns sold in Ohio to have fluorescent strips

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Khalid Sheik Mohammed

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was waterboarded 183 times but ignored by Senate investigators for their forthcoming report on CIA torture. Photograph: AP

Highest-value terror detainees excluded from Senate investigation of CIA torture

  • Four suspected al-Qaida members not interviewed received brutal treatment
  • US denied Polish investigators access to two of the detainees this summer
  • ‘The investigators believe these men have no voice worth hearing’

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Symantec

Gouri Mulaka, a senior lab systems engineer for Symantec Corp., walks past network servers at the HQ in California. Photograph: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Malware spied on companies and governments in 10 countries since 2008

‘Nation state’ most likely behind development of stealth malware Regin, say antivirus experts

An advanced, malicious software application has been uncovered that has spied on private companies, governments, research institutes and individuals in 10 countries since 2008, antivirus software maker Symantec Corp said in a report on Sunday.

The California-based maker of Norton antivirus products said its research showed that a “nation state” was likely the developer of the malware, Regin, but Symantec did not identify any countries or victims. Symantec said Regin’s design “makes it highly suited for persistent, long-term surveillance operations against targets”. The program was apparently withdrawn in 2011, but resurfaced in 2013.

The malware uses several stealth features and “even when its presence is detected, it is very difficult to ascertain what it is doing”, according to Symantec. “Many components of Regin remain undiscovered, and additional functionality and versions may exist.”

Almost half of all the infections occurred at the addresses of internet service providers, the report said. The targets were the customers of companies rather than the companies themselves. About 28% of targets were in telecoms, while other victims were in the energy, airline, hospitality and research sectors.

Symantec described the malware as having five layers, each “hidden and encrypted, with the exception of the first stage”. It said: “Each individual stage provides little information on the complete package. Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyse and understand the threat.“

Regin uses what is called a modular approach that allows it to load custom features tailored to targets, the same method applied in other malware, such as Flamer and Weevil (the Mask). Some of its features were similar to Duqu malware, uncovered in September 2011 and related to a computer worm called Stuxnet,  discovered the previous year.

Cybersecurity is a sensitive topic for businesses in the United States, where there have been several breaches of major companies and customer information. The US government and private cyber-intelligence firms have said they suspect that state-backed hackers in China or Russia may be responsible.

Symantec said Russia and Saudi Arabia accounted for about half of the confirmed infections of the Regin malware. The other countries affected were Mexico, Ireland, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan.

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More than 600 migrants rescued in Mediterranean, says   Italian  coastguard  

  • People pulled from sea in incidents near Strait of Sicily, while 270 Syrian refugees were rescued off northern Cyprus

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