Canada's spy agency releases its own anti-malware tool to the public

The CSE says its scalability makes it an ideal fit for enterprise applications

Canada

Canada's cyber defence agency has made the source code for its internal malware prevention tool publicly available to help in the fight against online threats.

The Communications Security Establishment, which is essentially Canada's equivalent to GCHQ in the UK, has released its "Assemblyline" tool as "an opportunity for the cyber security community to take what CSE has developed and build upon it to benefit all Canadians".

The tool is described as a highly configurable early warning system that is able to alert agents to malicious files when they are received.

An example given by the CSE describes how a financial officer may receive an email from an external sender that includes a password-protected zip file containing a word document and spreadsheet. This email may then be passed on to three colleagues within the department.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"Assemblyline will start by examining the initial email," the CSE explained in a statement. "It automatically recognizes the various file formats and triggers the analysis of each file. In this example, the Word document contains embedded malware, although the financial officer is unaware of this. The whole file is given a score when the analysis of each file is complete."

High scores will trigger alerts to a security analyst, who would then manually examine a file and disarm the malware to prevent it spreading further.

The main benefit of the system is its scalability, according to the CSE, as the tool is able to automatically rebalance workloads depending on the volume of data, making it an ideal catch-all solution for enterprises.

"Assemblyline was built using public domain and open-source software; however the majority of the code was developed by CSE," the statement added. "It does not contain any commercial technology, but it is easily integrated into existing cyber defence technologies. As open-source software, businesses can modify Assemblyline to suit their requirements."

The complete program is available on bitbucket to anyone who owns an account.

It's relatively uncommon for a national security agency to willingly share its tools with the world. The UK's GCHQ released the source code for its graph database program Gaffer in 2015, which is able to sift through vast amounts of data and analyse information to determine patterns.

Advertisement - Article continues below

At the time GCHQ promised further contributions to the open source community, but has yet to release any more of its toys to the public.

The National Security Agency in the US also has 32 projects running on GitHub, although these are mostly outdated programs, or specialist tools such as a GPS tracker, and are fairly useless as business tools. For the NSA's most high profile projects, you'll need to turn to the Shadow Brokers

Image: Bigstock

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/cyber-security/33079/gchq-boss-says-uk-must-be-vigilant-againt-chinese-tech-firms
cyber security

GCHQ boss says UK must be vigilant againt Chinese tech firms

25 Feb 2019
Visit/security/cyber-security/354540/nsa-hands-serious-flaw-to-microsoft-rather-than-use-it
cyber security

NSA hands serious flaw to Microsoft rather than use it

15 Jan 2020
Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/laptops/354533/dell-xps-13-new-9300-hands-on-review-chasing-perfection
Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020