A complex targeted virus has been discovered stealing data in the Middle East, security researchers announced today.
The malware -- dubbed Flame -- has been operation since 2010 and appears to be a state sponsored, Kaspersky Labs said today, but it was not sure of its origins. Flame is designed to steal information about targeted systems and stored files as well as computer display contents and audio conversations.
"The complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious program exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date," Kaspersky Labs said in statement announcing the malware's discovery.
The virus is about 20 times the size of Stuxnet, malware that targeted the controls of an Iranian nuclear facility. The largest concentration of infected machines is in Iran, followed by Israel/Palestine region, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
"The preliminary findings of the research, conducted upon an urgent request from ITU, confirm the highly targeted nature of this malicious program," Kasperky Labs' chief expert Alexander Gostev said in a statement. "One of the most alarming facts is that the Flame cyber-attack campaign is currently in its active phase, and its operator is consistently surveilling infected systems, collecting information and targeting new systems to accomplish its unknown goals."
"The Flame malware looks to be another phase in this war, and it's important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country," Kaspersky said in a statement. "Unlike with conventional warfare, the more developed countries are actually the most vulnerable in this case."
Additional Reading- Iran targeted by Flame
The virus, named Flame or Skywiper, could only have been created by a state, according to analysts who have investigated it and the pattern of infection.The results of our technical analysis support the hypotheses that Flame or Skywiper was developed by a government agency of a nation state with significant budget and effort, and it may be related to cyber warfare activities”