More sinister than Stuxnet, Flame computer virus strikes Iran and other enemies of Israel

Oh, we so loved Stuxnet, the little computer worm that could. It could and it did make life miserable for Iranian nuclear scientists as it wormed its way in and out, unimpeded and seemingly unstoppable, wreaking havoc with Iran’s nuclear facilities, for many months.

INN  (H/T liz) Now, apparently, Stuxnet has an even more ominous successor. 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 country with the largest number of machines infected by Flame is believed to be Iran, following by the West Bank, and Sudan and Syria after that. Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have also been affected.

UH OH, NOT AGAIN?

THE MOST COMPLEX ‘CYBER WEAPON’ OF ALL TIME – WHAT FLAME DOES

The virus contains about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which attacked an Iranian uranium enrichment facility, causing centrifuges to fail. 

It has about 100 times as much code as a typical virus designed to steal financial information, Kaspersky Labs said.     

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.     

He said there was evidence to suggest the code was commissioned by the same nation or nations that were behind Stuxnet and Duqu, which were built on a common platform. DAILY MAIL

The Flame ‘cyber weapon’ has been discovered in thousands of computers in the Middle East. The virus, discovered by security experts Kaspersky Labs, marks a new era in cyber warfare.

The virus, called ‘Flame’ is  the third major cyber weapon uncovered after the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010, and its data-stealing cousin Duqu, named after the Star Wars villain.   

The virus is 100 times more complex than normal PC viruses, and designed to steal information – it can even turn on microphones on infected PCs to listen to conversations. All the viruses are so complex they are said to have required the resources of a nation state to create.

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.

“This virus is stronger than its predecessor,” he said. “It is one that could only have been created by a state or other large entity.”

Problems in Iran’s computer systems are also continuing to surface in connection with the 2010 “Stuxnet” virus. The malware successfully disabled the computers that operated Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. More than 16,000 of the Natanz facility’s centrifuges were destroyed as a result of the cyber attack.

(Mr. BNI wonders if the name ‘FLAME’ was inspired by the Israeli organization FLAME (Facts and Logic about the Middle East)? FLAME

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