A United Nations agency is warning member nations to be on high alert for signs of the Flame computer virus that was recently discovered in Iran and other parts of the Middle East, according to an article from Reuters.
Marco Obiso, cyber security coordinator for the U.N.’s Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union, says that the forthcoming warning will be the most serious one they have ever released, stating that the Flame virus is a dangerous espionage tool that could potentially be used to attack critical infrastructure.
Obiso also believes, according to the article, that Flame was likely built on behalf of a nation state.
The warning is the latest signal that a new era of cyber warfare has begun following the Stuxnet virus attacks in 2010, which targeted Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence suggests that the Flame virus may have been built on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software maker that is claiming credit for discovering the infections, Reuters reports.
Kaspersky Lab found the virus after the ITU asked it to investigate recent reports from Tehran of a mysterious virus responsible for massive data loss, according to the article.
Obiso says that the ITU would set up a program to collect data, including virus samples, to track Flame’s progress around the world, but, according to the Kaspersky team, the Iranian government has not surrendered any samples of the infected software, and the original data-wiping virus has not been located, Reuters reports.
The United States has explicitly stated for the first time last year that it reserves the right to retaliate with force against a cyber attack.