The latest addition to the family of badass malware is DuQu. DuQu was born sometime in the near recent past but only became obvious to the world on September 1, 2011 when the Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security (CrySyS) notified the world of its birth.
If the proud parents were to issue a birth announcement it would read something like:
"The Stuxnet family is proud to announce its latest variant, DuQu, named after its propensity to create files with DQ as a prefix. Born: Sometime lately. Weight: Heavy. Breadth: Remains to be seen. The bouncing baby malware shares a good portion of its mother's (Stuxnet) source code. Its father is undetermined but likely is a good looking roving nation state with sabotage or corporate espionage on its mind, like Mossad or the CIA, who are also related to Stuxnet, so birth anomalies are possible. DuQu shares its likely father's fondness for stealth and trickery."
Stuxnet has been used to infect the Iranian nuclear program by causing the centrifuges used to purify uranium to exceed their design for spinning speed and destroy themselves. DuQu seems to extract information and send it to an unknown site. Although not proven, this blog along with others have surmised that the sophistication of Stuxnet, the targets and the amount of programming resources required point to the involvement of a group of people more technically advanced and well funded than the average virus creator. We also chronicled Stuxnet's move from being merely menacing to becoming a military weapon.
Anti virus groups are moving to address the issues, Microsoft says it will address the zero day defect that DuQu exploits when it gets around to it but proposes an emergency fix and the "whitelisting" folks like CoreTrace say that they've been ahead of this all along.
As this new arrival grows and spreads, the real purpose and the damage it may do can be assessed but if malware continues to be more sophisticated than some of the applications we regularly use, problems will abound.