A number of years ago, the anti-virus companies were approached by the U.S. government with a request for their software not to detect American espionage viruses. This created an interesting dilemma for these companies. The need for spying may be a genuine need for national security. On the other hand, if people learn their anti-virus software does not reveal all viruses, the credibility of the anti-virus software is undermined.
Malware is a term which has recently come to cover almost any form of software which invades user privacy or in some way degrades the functionality of a computer. Regin may very well be the most sophisticated piece of clandestinely placed spyware as yet written. Its ability to hide on a computer and the fact that Symantec, the company that has detected it is not yet certain about all the things it does, speaks to its sophistication.
With Russia and Saudi Arabia as the countries with the greatest Regin infection, there are some likely candidates for where it comes from. Two years ago, in a freshman seminar I was teaching, the infamous Stuxnet worm, which seemed to target Iranian computers, was still unknown as to source. I told my students I was certain it was American in origin. We have since learned it was a joint American/Israeli invention. Once again, the most likely author of this brilliant spyware is the United States. I suppose we will hear from Eric Snowden about it one of these days.
So what do I think about Regin? Well unless it starts causing me identity theft, I’m actually glad that we have a much-needed ear to the wall to give us much needed national intelligence. My only advice for our government is, try not to get caught!