'Flame' cyber attack could be most sophisticated ever

Symantec has warned of a “highly sophisticated” threat, which its Security Response Team has claimed is on par with the Stuxnet and Duqu viruses.

Symantec has announced that it has been analysing the W32.Flamer malware, a threat which is believed to have been snooping around computers in the Middle East for a couple of years now.

The security experts believe that the malware has been built by a team, pointing towards “an organised well funded group of personnel with directives” rather than an individual.  

Kaspersky Lab meanwhile have said that the malware may the be the most sophisticated cyber weapon ever discovered.

The code apparently includes a number of references to the string ‘FLAME’ which is thought to possibly be the malware’s development project name.

According to Symantec the threat has operated “discreetly” for two years, spreading via USB drives to steal documents, disable security and spread itself to other systems where possible.

W32.FLAMER is believed to have attacked known vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows in order to spread across networks.

It is thought that the main areas which have been affected are in the Palestinian West Bank, Hungary, Iran and Lebanon.   Russia, Austria, Hong Kong and UAE are also thought to have been targeted.

It is not known which individuals or sectors have been targeted, but it is thought that it is individual personal activities that are being sought rather than specific companies.  

It is claimed that many of the computers attacked have been with home internet access.

Iranian researchers have also claimed that there is a “close relation” to the Stuxnet virus that attacked critical nuclear infrastructure during 2010 and 2011, though it is not thought that the virus is aimed at doing physical damage like Stuxnet.

The Iran National CERT (MAHER) said that 43 anti products used were unable to detect the software.