Flame Virus: Newly-discovered computer malware, cyber weapon has experts worrying

A newly-discovered cyber weapon known as the "Flame Virus" has begun circulating and has experts worrying.

At the start of May, Vitaly Kamlyuk was part of an expert team looking for malicious computer code said to be wiping data from computers in Iran. But they found something else.

"We came across an interesting suspicious file that initially wasn't looking like malware at all," said Kamlyuk, a chief malware expert at Kaspersky Lab.

It turned out to be part of the most sophisticated malware he'd ever seen.

"This is obviously a cyber weapon and if this is nation state supported as we think it, this is actually a new stage of cyber warfare," he said.

This code is much bigger than the Stuxnet virus that attacked and damaged Iranian nuclear reactors in 2009 and 2012. But it looks like it's only designed to gather information like e-mails and passwords.

It can also grab images from computer screens and switch on computer microphones to record conversations.

Then it send all that information… somewhere.

"The attackers are smart, they are trying to hide their identities," Kamlyuk said. "We tried to follow the command and control servers and infrastructure but it turned out to be more than a dozen different servers located in many different countries."

The targeted countries with confirmed infections so far are in the Middle East and North Africa.

It's believed the malware has been out there for at least two years.

"This is not the whole picture. this is just the tip of the iceberg," Kamlyuk said.


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