A large and complex virus has been targeting the Middle East security systems for several years and was just discovered this past week. “Flame,” a complicated and advanced malware program, has been in operation since 2010. Despite the long operation time, the origins are still unknown.
Flame is designed to target systems and their files as well as conversations done over the internet and displayed content. Kaspersky Labs, the security research company that finally spotted the virus, say that it’s the most advanced – and malicious – program they’ve ever seen.
The program is over twenty times larger than Stuxnet, which was a program that recently targeted an Iranian nuclear facility. Though the largest number of infected machines is in Iran, several other countries including Egypt and Sudan also have affected computer systems.
“The preliminary findings of the research, conducted upon an urgent request from ITU, confirm the highly targeted nature of this malicious program,” a Kasperky Labs employee stated. “One of the most alarming facts is that the Flame cyber-attack campaign is currently in its active phase, and its operator is consistently surveilling [sic] infected systems, collecting information and targeting new systems to accomplish its unknown goals.”
The malware is still not fully understood, but security is working hard to figure out the exact breakdown of the virus. Currently, the virus has been found and eliminated from many of the infected systems, but the full extent of the damage is largely unknown. News is expected about the damage in the next few weeks.