A new, unprecedented computer virus called “Flame” (or “sKyWIper”) has hit Iran, the West Bank, and other Middle Eastern locations. It is already considered one of the most sophisticated cyber weapons ever unleashed. Internet security company Kaspersky said Monday that Flame was the “most complex piece of malicious software discovered to date.”
The cyber-espionage worm, designed to collect and delete sensitive information, is said to have 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which attacked an Iranian uranium enrichment facility (and some 16,000 computers), causing centrifuges to fail. Iran blamed Israel and the US for its creation. Experts believe that only a state could be behind the development of such a sophisticated virus.
Flame is also believed to contain an element that was used in Stuxnet. Kaspersky said the Flame malware may have been lurking inside thousands of computers across the Middle East for between five and eight years. The creator of the virus is not yet known.
The Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security (CrySyS Lab), affiliated with Budapest University, said the analysis on the virus is still limited in scope, but that the virus is a complex “info-stealer… with large components.”
Flame is the third cyber weapon uncovered recently, after Stuxnet and Duqu (named after a Star Wars villain).
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.