New super-virus hits
Mideast computers; is prime suspect Israel
A new computer virus being described as the most sophisticated cyber-weapon in history has begun tearing through government and other computers in
, Iran , Syria , Egypt and the Palestinian-controlled territories. Saudi Arabia
Dubbed "Flame," the new virus contains 20 times more code than the Stuxnet virus that infected
's nuclear program two years ago, according to Internet security company Kapersky. Stuxnet was previously marveled over for its incredible ability to adapt and alter its attacks, and it was concluded that only a national government would have the resources to develop such a program. Iran
Flame is said to contain some of the code for Stuxnet, creating a clear link between the two viruses. Flame may also have been introduced into the region at the same time as Stuxnet, but has remained dormant until now. All of this again points to
, which hinted in the past that it was behind Stuxnet. Israel
Speaking to Army Radio on Tuesday, Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon would not give a definitive response as to whether or not
was behind Flame, but did say, " Israel has been blessed with a prolific hi-tech sector that opens possibilities in both the business and security fields." Israel
Currently, Flame is believed to be conducting targeted attacks on specific data. The virus collects its target data and then deletes it. To date, most of the infected computer systems are in
The virus was discovered by Kapersky analysts, who were shocked that Flame remained hidden for so long despite its enormous 20 gigabyte size.
"It’s pretty fantastic and incredible in complexity," Kapersky's chief security expert, Alexander Gostev, told Wired magazine. "It will take us 10 years to fully understand everything."
At the same time Flame was discovered and made public,
announced that it would invest an additional $13 million in national cyber defenses. Much of those funds will be awarded to private Israeli companies that can demonstrate innovative methods for dealing with new cyber threats. Israel
Netanyahu deputy hints at Israeli involvement in
cyber attack Iran
In Israel's first official comment on Flame worm, which was revealed on Monday to have infected computers in Iran and various Arab countries, Vice PM Ya'alon says such steps 'reasonable' in face of Iranian threat.
By Haaretz | May.29, 2012 |
Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted on Monday at possible Israeli involvement in the Flame bug, which was revealed to have targeted computers in Iran and the West Bank on Monday.
"Anyone who sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat – it's reasonable [to assume] that he will take various steps, including these, to harm it," Ya’alon said Tuesday morning in an interview with Army Radio. "
was blessed as being a country rich with high-tech, these tools that we take pride in open up all kinds of opportunities for us," he added. Israel
According to experts at internet security company Kaspersky who first detected the virus, Flame was most likely created by a state actor, and is capable of transferring files, screenshots, audio recordings and keystrokes from infected computers.
Ilan Proimovich, Kaspersky's representative in
, told Army Radio that the worm "does not operate independently, but is controlled by a remote computer, and thus only when it receives an order does it start working. For this reason, it is difficult to detect, because it is not always active." Calling it a "masterpiece of programming," he said it was sophisticated enough to change its characteristics and develop according to orders. Israel
Kaspersky said on Monday that Flame shared certain characteristics with Stuxnet, the bug that attacked Iranian centrifuges and was discovered in 2010. Unlike Stuxnet, however, which was designed to cause damage to computerized equipment, Flame is meant to collect information. The source of the bug is as yet unknown.