Internet Security Experts have announced that they have discovered a new highly sophisticated computer virus called “Flame”. The virus is said to have infected thousands of computers over the last five years as part of a cyber warfare campaign.
Kaspersky Lab security senior researcher Roel Schouwenberg, whose company discovered the virus, said it was one of the most complex malicious programs discovered up until now. Kapersky Lab made its results available on Monday. The Lab said that it had no idea who built Flame.
If the Lab is correct in its analysis, Flame is the third major cyber weapon discovered to date. The first was the Stuxnet virus, which was made to infect and destroy the infrastructure related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The second was Stuxnet’s little sister, called Duqu after the Star Wars character. Duqu was a super sophisticated data stealing program.
The Discovery of Flame by one of the world’s largest security companies is going to further the view that countries are already deploying complex cyber warfare weapons and that these three virus’ are just the beginning.
Schouwenberg said in an interview,
“If Flame went on undiscovered for five years, the only logical conclusion is that there are other operations ongoing that we don’t know about,”
Kapersky Labs is owned by Russian malware researcher Eugene Kaspersky. Kapersky gained a name for itself in cyber weapons research after solving several mysteries surrounding Stuxnet and Duqu. Researchers at Kapersky Labs are saying that they are only beginning to understand how Flame works because of its levels of complexity. The full significance of the virus will become known once other labs get samples of Flame to do their own analysis.
The virus contains about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet. It has about 100 times as much code as a typical virus designed to steal financial information. Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats.
The Lab’s research shows the largest number of infected machines are in Iran, followed by the Israel/Palestine region, then Sudan and Syria.