A new deadly virus has been attacking several Middle-Eastern countries and may be the new big threat in International Cyber Terrorism. The Flame Virus, which many believe to be State sponsored, has already attacked Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia among others and nobody is sure where it is coming from.
The malware take the form of an information sucking program that has stolen reams of Data from Government, Military and University targets. Kaspersky labs released an initial analysis of the computer program earlier today.
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The report from the lab suggested that Flame is bigger and more dangerous than any other Cyber security menace that has been released before. The other contenders for the title are the Stuxnet and Duqu viruses. This virus is more related to Duqu in that it is essentially non destructive though it is though to be related to both of those pieces of software and may originate from the same source.
Stuxnet was first seen in 2010 and concentrated its attacks mainly on Iran. It famously set back the work of many of the country’s nuclear facilitieThe Flame virus appears to be simply aattacking systems to access their information though that is certainly dangerous enough.
The complexity of the virus will make it a difficult one to beat. Kaspersky analysis estimates that the malware is 20 times the size of the Stuxnet virus. It is collecting data all over the Middle East for an unknown purpose.
Along with Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the virus is know to be active in Sudan and Syria. The attack has beeen extremely targeted and is unlikely to have efffected many personal computers. The Kasopersky institute estimates that only 5000 personal computers were effected world wide.
The discovery and initial analysis of the virus are the first in a long series of steps to eliminate it. Though it appears to be related to the last two big cyber security threats neither Stuxnet or Duqu is fully understood.
What is clear is that the viruses are extraordinarily complex and have been put together by a sophisticated and talented group of computer scientists. Whether a state actor is involved is unclear at this point but it is likely according to analysis of all three viruses.
We are entering into a new era of cyber terrorism in which sophisticated viruses are seen as a method for covertly reaching political aims. No matter who released the Stuxnet virus it is unlikely the halt in Iranian nuclear facilities was accidental.