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Massive cyberattack 'Flame' discovered in the Middle East

Russian internet security giant Kaspersky discovered the malware, which it believes is a state-sponsored effort at mass cyber-espionage around the region.

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A sophisticated cyber-espionage virus called 'Flame' was found in the Middle East targeting Iran primarily said Russian software security group Kapersky. (SecureList/Courtesy)

A massive cyberattack was discovered lurking in thousands of computers around the Middle East Monday.

Russian internet security giant Kaspersky discovered the malware, which it believes is a state-sponsored effort at mass cyber-espionage around the region.

Reuters reported Kaspersky as saying that the virus is the most complex piece of malicious software discovered in history.

The malware is said to focus on collecting private data recording screenshots and keyboard inputs in over 600 different targets, which ranged from individuals to secure government websites.

Its size, 20mb, far larger than the famous Stuxnet virus aimed at disabling Iran's nuclear program, suggests that it was backed by a state rather than simply a small group of programmers, said ITProPortal.

Stuxnet, regarded as one of the most successful cyber attacks of all time, infected approximately 16,000 computers in Iran alone and caused some of its nuclear centrifuges to spin too quickly and break, according to the Associated Press.  

Flame is believed to have been operating since August 2010.

Read more on GlobalPostDoes Stuxnet herald the age of cyber warfare?

Wired reported that it was found primarily in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian territories, as well as other countries in the Middle East, including several cases in Egypt.

"The Flame malware looks to be another phase in this war, and it's important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country," said Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and CEO of the Kaspersky, reported CNet.

"Unlike with conventional warfare, the more developed countries are actually the most vulnerable in this case."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/120528/massive-cyberattack-flame-discovered-the-middle-east