The Stuxnet worm was a very sophisticated piece of malware that infected PCs in the Middle East and was first discovered in June 2010. It was almost certainly designed as a weapon of cyberwarfare, since it targeted nuclear power plants and other industrial facilities.
Now we have ‘son of Stuxnet’, Flame. According to Kaspersky Lab, this is the most sophisticated form of malware that they’ve ever discovered and was found, because computers across the Middle East were having sensitive information deleted off them by some unknown malware, which they were then asked to investigate by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Interestingly, because Flame packs so much functionality, it’s almost 20MB in size and actually infects a PC in stages. It may also have even been around since 2010 and most important, is that it’s easily capable of infecting a fully patched Windows 7 PC, which is the most secure versiom of Windows available today. As ever, to guard against such threats, use a hardware firewall, internet security software, practice safe computing habits and make regular backups of all important data, especially onto offline media that can’t easily be got at.
Flame shares many characteristics with notorious cyber weapons Duqu and Stuxnet: while its features are different, the geography and careful targeting of attacks coupled with the usage of specific software vulnerabilities seems to put it alongside those familiar ‘super-weapons’ currently deployed in the Middle East by unknown perpetrators. Flame can easily be described as one of the most complex threats ever discovered. It’s big and incredibly sophisticated. It pretty much redefines the notion of cyberwar and cyberespionage.
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