here is the most infected computer in the world by Google

At GSEC Málaga (Spain), Google’s new European cybersecurity research center, teams have the most infected computer in the world to test all approaches.

Teams begin to orient themselves in the new building at the port of Malaga, in southern Spain, where Google has installed your new GSEC, the security engineering center that must advance the investigation against cyber threats. It is the Internet giant’s third center in Europe, after Dublin and Munich, and the largest to combat cybercrime.

Acquired in 2012 by Google, the Malaga-based startup VirusTotal was consolidated two weeks after the former military administrative building was remodeled. It is today one of the references in cybersecurity research and information sharing through its threat reference platform. Its engineers will gradually be joined by TAG (Threats Analysis Group) and Mandiant, two Google entities that are part of the galaxy of teams working on security issues within the company.

And among the first elements installed, we found the most infected computer in the world.

Up to 30 viruses and malware can run on your computer at the same time "test" by VirusTotal
Around 30 viruses and malware can run at the same time on the VirusTotal “test” computer © Tech&Co

Six million viruses, worms and malware on a single PC

In this column – obviously not connected to the internet! — nearly thirty different types of malware have coexisted simultaneously since the first virus was detected in the early 1990s (Ambulance) to the most devastating worm called Happy New Year in 1999. The most dangerous ones have been injected and are being studied to see how they try to steal passwords, damage files or delete data. They are monitored in real time to understand their behavior and develop solutions.

“Only one of them can shut down the computer. So we want to know how many can run at the same time before crashing the system. But we have to be careful”, one of the VirusTotal engineers laughs. This computer is a team project to see how much a device can handle. Because in total there are six million malware that are contained on the hard drive to be analyzed.

The Happy New Year worm that took advantage of the New Year of 1999 to infect computers at the cost of a beautiful fireworks display.
The Happy New Year worm that took advantage of the New Year of 1999 to infect computers at the cost of a beautiful fireworks display. © VirusTotal

The computer therefore executes different families of malicious codes, representing the most common to the most sophisticated, to see which ones react and how it is possible to disarm them. We thus find a Trojan horse specialized in stealing banking credentials, malware that uses the PC to mine cryptocurrencies or even a virus specialized in stealing online gaming accounts.

Thus, we distinguish APT viruses that target a specific entity, such as state or private organizations. All for commercial purposes, but sometimes also for political purposes. It uses vulnerabilities and is deployed slowly to remain stealthy and unobtrusive. The computer also has a rootkit that infects Windows system, instant messaging worms, mailbox hacking tools or even Jokesnon-viral or invasive programs that should not harm the computer, just bother the user with some jokes (a mouse that moves by itself, a message that appears, etc.).

In Malaga, VirusTotal teams injected six million pieces of malware into a computer.
In Malaga, VirusTotal teams injected six million pieces of malware into a computer. © Tech&Co

With thousands of cybersecurity experts around the world, Google can track all threats and train your teams to anticipate them, find solutions, and share knowledge with other cyber threat experts. This is the objective of the new GSEC in Malaga, but also a mission that the company wants to bring to organizations, companies, governments and obviously to its users.

How AI is changing the fight against cyber threats

And to do this, teams rely on artificial intelligence to help them, speed up certain tasks and generalize cybersecurity for those who are less familiar.

“We’ve been using AI for years at Google, with deep learning notably. This is how we created anti-spam and antivirus filters for Gmail, reinforced security in Chrome against malicious websites, browsing, etc.”, recalls Phil Venables to Tech&Co.

“It’s obvious that with so-called generative AI, attackers are able to create much better phishing emails by imitating people’s voices or photos to generate disinformation. This is a very real threat.” use it.” adds the Google Cloud security manager.

As long as AI is used wisely, he remains optimistic that those who are there to defend users will be one step ahead of hackers to better combat them. According to the study Empowering Defenders: How AI is shaping malware analysis Revealed this Wednesday by Google and VirusTotal, AI allows “to identify 70% more malicious scripts than a traditional technique”. And it’s up to 300% more accurate in detecting malicious script attempts targeting a specific vulnerable device.

The evolution of cybersecurity at Google
The evolution of cybersecurity at Google © Tech&Co

Thus, the execution speed of AI trained to detect attacks could help those who do not have sufficient knowledge and resources to fight back, increasing detection and protection, especially for institutional organizations in Europe that generally do not lack the cybersecurity teams and structures. necessary to resist.

“A matter of national security”

“They are the first to be targeted by hackers for ransomware,” emphasizes Max Smeets, researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich and co-director of the European Cyber ​​Conflict Research Initiative. “It’s a national security issue. We need to change collaboration and approach to increasingly innovative and organized groups.”

AI could, therefore, be the solution to speed up analysis and the tasks to be applied, the report already recommends Cybersecurity forecast for 2024 from Google Cloud. By contextualizing and analyzing more data, you will save time understanding threats for as many people as possible and make cybersecurity more accessible. “Technology can create new threats, but it can also help us fight them”, recognizes Vicente Diaz, strategist at VirusTotal.

“Again, it’s about making sure we have security defenses against threats in general. Not just AI threats, but all threats,” concludes Phil Venables. “But what’s reassuring is that the more we train AI, the more effective it will become at detection and prevention.” The best is yet to come.

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