What's the Latest Development?
A Russian anti-virus company has discovered the most complex computer virus in cyber warfare history. Called "Flame", the company says the virus has been targeting computer systems in the Middle East, such as Iran's Oil Ministry, for at least two years. The virus can turn on the internal microphone of an infected computer to record conversations conducted over Skype or in the machine's near vicinity. Another module takes screenshots and logs activity such as keystrokes and instant-message communication. All the information gathered is then sent via covert SSL channel to the attackers' servers.
What's the Big Idea?
Flame joins the ranks of Stuxnet and DuQu as a super-virus that experts say was likely built by state-run intelligence departments. Stuxnet, which wreaked havoc on Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities beginning in 2009, is believed to have been written jointly by Israel and the US. DuQu was an espionage tool found on machines in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere in 2011. "Stuxnet and DuQu appeared to have been built on the same framework, using identical parts and using similar techniques." Flame, on the other hand, was written using code typically found in computer games.
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