Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Computer Virus 'Explodes' in Iran

The 'Flame' Computer Virus Strikes Iran -Chana Ya'ar

Iranian security experts report a virus far more dangerous than the Stuxnet worm has struck the country's computer systems. Dubbed the “Flame,” the virus is one that has struck not only Iran, however, but a number of other enemies of Israel as well.

The Kaspersky Internet security firm is calling the “Flame” data-stealing virus the “most sophisticated cyber-weapon yet unleashed” and hinted it may have been created by the makers of the Stuxnet worm.

Kaspersky called the virus a “cyber-espionage worm” designed to collect and delete sensitive information, primarily in Middle Eastern countries.

The “Flame” has struck at least 600 specific computer systems in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, Kaspersky malware expert Vitaly Kamluk told the BBC. He added that the virus has probably been operating discreetly for at least two years.
[Arutz Sheva]

Flame virus 'much bigger than Stuxnet' -Stuart Williams

A Russian computer firm has discovered a new computer virus with unprecedented destructive potential that chiefly targets Iran and could be used as a "cyberweapon" by the West and Israel.

Kaspersky Lab, one of the world's biggest producers of anti-virus software, said its experts discovered the virus -- known as Flame -- during an investigation prompted by the International Telecommunication Union.

Iran appears to have been the main target of the attack and the announcement comes just a month after the Islamic Republic said it halted the spread of a data-deleting virus targeting computer servers in its oil sector.

It said the main task of Flame is cyber espionage, meaning it steals information from infected machines including documents, screenshots and even audio recordings. It then sends the data to servers all over the world.  Flame is "actively being used as a cyberweapon attacking entities in several countries," Kaspersky said in a statement. Flame is "one of the most advanced and complete attack-toolkits ever discovered."

Moshe Yaalon
The origin of the Stuxnet worm has never been made clear but suspicion has fallen on the United States and Israel which both accuse Iran of seeking to build an atomic weapon.

Without giving any indication that Israeli spy agency Mossad could be involved in Flame, Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon said such cyberweapons were an important part of the arsenal of Iran's enemies. "For anyone who sees the Iranian threat as significant, it is reasonable that he would take different steps, including these, in order to hobble it," he told army radio. "Israel is blessed with being a country which is technologically rich, and these tools open up all sorts of possibilities for us."

"Flame" computer virus strikes Middle East

 A massive, data-slurping cyberweapon is circulating in the Middle East, and computers in Iran appear to have been particularly affected...

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab ZAO said the "Flame" virus was unprecedented both in terms of its size and complexity, possessing the ability to turn infected computers into all-purpose spying machines that can even suck information out of nearby cell phones.

So far, Flame appears focused on espionage. The virus can activate a computer's audio systems to eavesdrop on Skype calls or office chatter, for example. It can also take screenshots, log keystrokes, and - in one of its more novel functions - steal data from Bluetooth-enabled cell phones.

Udi Mokady, chief executive of Cyber-Ark, an Israeli developer of information security, said..."[i]t was 20 times more sophisticated than Stuxnet," with thousands of lines of code that took a large team, ample funding and months, if not years, to develop, he said. "It's a live program that communicates back to its master. It asks, `Where should I go? What should I do now?' It's really almost like a science fiction movie," he said.
[CBS News]


Russia's Top Cyber Sleuth Foils U.S. Spies, Helps Kremlin Pals 
-Noah Shachtman

One of Russia's richest men, Eugene Kaspersky, is CEO of Kaspersky Lab, arguably the most important Internet security company in the world.

Kaspersky, a former Soviet intelligence officer, maintains a deep and ongoing relationship with Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB.

In 2010, a researcher now working for Kaspersky discovered Stuxnet, the U.S.-Israeli worm that wrecked nearly a thousand Iranian centrifuges.

In May, Kaspersky's antihackers exposed a second weaponized computer program, which they dubbed Flame. It was subsequently revealed to be another U.S.-Israeli operation aimed at Iran. In other words, Kaspersky Lab is a leader in uncovering cyber-espionage.

Flame, one of the most sophisticated pieces of spyware ever discovered, was another part of America's shadow war against Iran - and Kaspersky killed it.

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