Computer virus experts at Kaspersky Lab in Russia have issued a dire warning over the danger posed by the Flame virus, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
Acting under a request from the United Nations, the experts were searching for a different virus, dubbed the Wiper for its target of wiping vast amounts of computer data, when they encountered the more menacing suspect: Flame.
The likely cost of such a sophisticated endeavor left Kaspersky Lab employees all but certain that a government sponsor intent on cyber warfare and espionage was behind the activity, the article reports.
According to Kaspersky Lab senior antivirus expert Vitaly Kamlyuk, the Flame virus can copy and steal data and audio files, turn on a computer microphone and record all sounds in the vicinity, take screen shots, read documents and emails, and capture passwords and login information.
The program can communicate with other nearby computers via the infected device’s Bluetooth capability, locating their whereabouts without an Internet connection, the article says.
“We haven’t figured out yet whether it can carry out some destructive actions but we can say with confidence that it is a powerful universal set of tools for cyber espionage,” Kamlyuk said in the article.
“Many people still think that cyber warfare is a myth and a fantasy but as we reassemble and study one by one the numerous components and modules of this unique program we see that it is a real weapon of this undeclared war that is already going on,” he continued.
Kaspersky Lab has uncovered damage on at least 189 computers in Iran, 98 in Israel and Palestine, 32 in Sudan, 30 in Syria, 18 in Lebanon, 10 in Saudi Arabia and five in Egypt, the article says. Many more may have also been infected.
The experts are still studying the software program and trying to determine the point of entry.