Most sophisticated cyber-attack yet discovered

One of the most complex computer malware, dubbed Flame, has been discovered in computers in the Middle East, according to a Moscow-based antivirus software maker Kaspersky Lab. An estimated 1,000 to 5,000 machines were infected worldwide.

The malware is believed to be in use at least since August 2010. It was discovered after a UN telecommunications agency asked antivirus researchers to analyse data on malicious software across the Middle East in search of the data-wiping virus reported by Iran, a country where the largest number of computers infected by Flame malware was later detected. The virus also turned up in Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The malware is 20 times more sophisticated than Stuxnet, the notorious computer worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010 and was the first publicly known example of a cyber weapon. It is believed the attack was state-sponsored as it took a large team, massive funding and possibly years to develop.

Flame appears not to cause physical damage but to collect huge amount of sensitive data. "Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on," Kaspersky's chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk said. It is also able to interact with any Bluetooth device within reach to see what it can steal.

The Flame is the fourth known cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear program. In Baghdad last week, Iranian negotiators rejected proposals by six world powers to curb the country’s nuclear programme. A new round of nuclear talks is to take place in Moscow next month.

Picture credits:
© 2012-28-05 Alexander Gostev at Securelist