Massive Cyber Attack Uncovered
A complex malware has been detected by the Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs. Known as Flame, it constitutes what might be one of the largest cyber-attacks in history.
The amount of nation states affected, and the geographical layout of the malware's attacks leads Kaspersky's chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk to believe that the cyber attack was state sponsored.
"Currently there are three known classes of players who develop malware and spyware: hacktivists, cybercriminals and nation states," he told the BBC."Flame is not designed to steal money from bank accounts. It is also different from rather simple hack tools and malware used by the hacktivists. So by excluding cybercriminals and hacktivists, we come to conclusion that it most likely belongs to the third group."
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The nations affected include Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Individuals, businesses, governmental systems, and even academic institutions were targeted.
Flame is a complex malware that can do everything from record audio to take screenshots whenever an "interesting" program is run such as email. It also has the ability to be manipulated on the fly, in order to add specific abilities. In other words, Flame can gain new abilities much the same way you add apps to a smartphone.
Kaspersky Labs told the BBC that they belived the malware has been operating from August, 2010.
Previous cyber attacks, such as Stuxnet, targeted nuclear facilities in Iran, while Duque infiltrated networks in order to steal data.
Iran's National Computer Emergency Response Team posted a security alert stating that it believed Flame was responsible for "recent incidents of mass data loss" in the country.
"Whereas Stuxnet just had one purpose in life, Flame is a toolkit, so they can go after just about everything they can get their hands on," said Professor Alan Woodward from the Department of Computing at the University of Surrey.