Warning: ‘Flame’ Virus Could Cripple Entire Countries
May 30th, 2012
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The United Nations is set to issue an urgent warning to guard against the most powerful computer virus ever unleashed amid fears it could be used to bring countries to a standstill.
In what was being seen last night as the dawn of a new era in cyber warfare, UN computer security chief Marco Obiso said: ‘This is the most serious warning we have ever put out.’
He was speaking after it was revealed that a massive superbug had been used to hack into computers in Iran.
Israel did little to dispute claims yesterday that it was behind the clandestine online assault.
The sophisticated spyware â said to be about 100 times the size of most malicious software â also hacked other machines in the Middle East, including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt, but Iran appeared to be the primary target, according to a Russian Internet security firm.
Mr. Obiso, cyber security coordinator for the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, said the warning will underline the danger the virus represents to the critical infrastructure of member nations.
Dubbed ‘Flame’, the Trojan bug worms its way into computer systems and reportedly turns infected machines into listening devices.
It can activate a computer’s audio system to eavesdrop on Skype calls or office chatter, take screenshots or log keystrokes and even suck information from Bluetooth-enabled phones left nearby.
The Russians discovered the virus after being asked by the United Nations to find a piece of mystery malware that was wiping out sensitive information across the Middle East.
It is believed to have been coded by the same programmers who hacked into Iran’s nuclear programme six years ago.
Last night, Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team posted a security alert saying it believed Flame was responsible for ‘recent incidents of mass data loss.’ It also claimed an antidote had been found.
The discovery of the Flame virus came just days after talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad failed to persuade Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment. A new round of talks is expected to take place in Moscow next month.
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Contributed by David Gardner of MailOnline.com.
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