Kaspersky says it has discovered a huge and complex cyber-threat called Flame, a piece of malware that the company believes is state sponsored.
According to the BBC, Kaspersky says that the malware has been in operation since August 2010 and is “one of the most complex threats ever discovered”.
Unlike other malware thought to have been developed at the state level, Flame was apparently designed to passively gather vast amounts of sensitive information and was aimed at over 600 specific targets ranging from individuals to academic institutions and government systems.
“Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on,” said Kaspersky’s chief malware expert, Vitaly Kamluk.
The Iranian National Computer Emergency Response Team recently posted a security alert, saying that Flame was responsible for “recent incidents of mass data loss”. Other countries thought to have been affected include Sudan, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
“The geography of the targets and also the complexity of the threat leaves no doubt about it being a nation-state that sponsored the research that went into it,” added Kamluk.
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