Kaspersky has uncovered the Flame virus that is now the most advanced and sophisticated virus and the cause of cyber attacks in the Middle East. Iran now acknowledges that the potent virus has affected the computer systems of its top officials, reports The New York Times. Iran’s cyber defense organization known as the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre has warned that this virus is extremely powerful, about 20 times more than the Stuxnet that had attacked its nuclear program in Tehran. This sophisticated virus is also speculated to be a state sponsored one.

Iran acknowledges the massive attack..(Image Source - Kaspersky Lab, via Agence France-Press)

Iran 'Flame'd..(Image Source – Kaspersky Lab, via Agence France-Press)

An Iranian cyber defense official, Kamran Napelian disclosed that this virus has special patterns, which comes only from Israel. The virus is capable of copying whatever you enter on the keyboard and view on the computer screen. So, basically it can monitor whatever you do. He also added that the Flame virus has caused massive data loss and Iran has developed software to combat Flame, something that the international community is yet to do. However, he wasn’t authorized to reveal the exact damage that the Flame virus has caused.

Orla Cox, an analyst at the security firm Symantec, said that Flame has been targeting specific individuals, apparently Iranian related. “The way it has been developed is unlike anything we've seen before,” she said. “It's huge. It's like using an atomic weapon to crack a nut.”  The Kaspersky Lab has released figures showing the countries affected by the Flame attack, which is inclusive of 189 attacks in Iran, 98 incidents in the West Bank, 32 in Sudan and 30 in Syria. Countries like Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have also detected the virus. Reportedly, Iran believes that US and Israel are trying to sabotage its programme but denies the allegation that its programme is weapons related.

Reuters reports that the United Nations agency has also issued a warning about the risk of the Flame virus. Marco Obiso, cyber security coordinator for the UN's Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union, said, “This is the most serious (cyber) warning we have ever put out.” It has warned member nations about the virus which is a dangerous espionage tool that could potentially be used to attack critical infrastructure. So, does this signal the beginning of a new cyber war?

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