Those Israelis are cunning

The Telegraph

It seems the Israelis have done even better than they did with their Stuxnet virus:

The world’s most complex computer virus, possessing a range of complex espionage capabilities, including the ability to secretly record conversations, has been exposed.

Middle Eastern states were targeted and Iran ordered an emergency review of official computer installations after the discovery of a new virus, known as Flame.

Experts said the massive malicious software was 20 times more powerful than other known cyber warfare programmes including the Stuxnet virus and could only have been created by a state.

It is the third cyber attack weapon targeting systems in the Middle East to be exposed in recent years.

Iran has alleged that the West and Israel are orchestrating a secret war of sabotage using cyber warfare and targeted assassinations of its scientists as part of the dispute over its nuclear programme.

Stuxnet attacked Iran’s nuclear programme in 2010, while a related programme, Duqu, named after the Star Wars villain, stole data.

Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on computer microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and copy instant messaging chats.

The virus was discovered by a Russian security firm that specialises in targeting malicious computer code.

It made the 20 gigabyte virus available to other researchers yesterday claiming it did not fully understand its scope and said its code was 100 times the size of the most malicious software.

Kaspersky Labs said the programme appeared to have been released five years ago and had infected machines in Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“If Flame went on undiscovered for five years, the only logical conclusion is that there are other operations ongoing that we don’t know about,” Roel Schouwenberg, a Kaspersky security senior researcher, said.


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  • Arranh

    If it was 20gb in size I really can’t see it being a virus, more likely a trojan (ie it required someone to deliberately run it or allow it to be run). I really wish the media would appreciate the difference. It’s similar to the difference between someone sneezing on you and someone passing you an unidentifiable food that looks and smells dodgy but they promise that it tastes euphoric. Would you really have as much sympathy for the person who got sick from eating the food?

    • Tony

      Geek alert

    •  You’re expecting a bit much from the media – even in the Tech mags – plus the meda have been send a blind, so not all the info has been revealed.

  • Arranh

    Hmm, it seems it was a virus, that is freaking impressive, spreading over USB and network connections and exploiting a number of vulnerabilities that Microsoft have probably patched (but governments everywhere aren’t known for their high quality IT departments. No offence to government IT staff, it’s the internal policies that hamstring your effectiveness) but remained at least partially unpatched on these systems.

    • Tony


  • Korau

    The original source quotes the virus as being  20 megabytes in size. A sloppy copy/paste by someone.

    The malware can ….

    Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn
    on computer microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and
    copy instant messaging chats.

    That sounds very like a standard keylogger component of an everyday Microsoft infecting piece of malware.

    The only unusual thing about this is it is said to have been undiscovered for five years. I wonder how it can be a descendant of Stuxnet which is much younger than this?

    •  It’s a blind – you don’t want too much being put out there….

  • AnonWgtn

    Was it written in Chinese perhaps.
    They are the world’s most skilled practicioners at this kind of work, in front even of the Israelis

  • K Marx
  • Thanks Cameron – don’t need to offer to post this anymore….. It confirms the best (i.e. most clever) hackers and spammers are still from the USA. China and Russia not far behind read Kaspersky.  India have a lot to learn still. 

  • Guest

    First plausible explanation of how the Israelis are able to turn the Syrian air defence network on and off when they feel like it. Interesting to see how much control they have in Iran if they decide to have a crack at their nuclear program.