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UN agency warns of 'Flame' virus which hit Middle East

A United Nations agency is set to warn member nations of the Flame virus as a dangerous espionage tool.

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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 United Nations agency is set to issue a warning on Tuesday about the Flame virus that was recently found in the Middle East and Iran, according to Reuters.

Marco Obiso, the cyber security coordinator for the UN International Telecommunications Union, said, "This is the most serious warning we have ever put out."

The warning to member nations will say that the Flame virus is a "dangerous espionage tool" which could be used to attack infrastructure, Obiso told Reuters.

The Associated Press called Flame a "cyberweapon" and said it had affected particularly computers in Iran. Russian-based Kaspersky Lab said the virus could turn computers into spying machines.

Kaspersky researcher Roel Schouwenberg told the AP, "It can be used to spy on everything that a user is doing."

According to Wired, Flame spies on and steals information from infected computers, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes. It apparently infected computers as early as March 2010, but remained undetected for this long.

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Kaspersky's conclusion that a government was behind Flame was followed by speculation that it could be part of an Israeli-backed campaign aimed at Iran.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon fueled that speculation on Tuesday when he said Flame was a "reasonable" tool for a country to employ to "hobble" the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, according to Agence France Presse.

He added, "Israel is blessed with being a country which is technologically rich, and these tools open up all sorts of possibilities for us."

In 2010, Iran suffered a major cyberattack from the Stuxnet virus which affected its computers at nuclear facilities.

The Iranian government said on Tuesday that it has created an antivirus program capable of combating Flame.

The Islamic Republic's Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center said it can identify and remove Flame, according to Voice of America.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/technology/120529/un-agency-warns-of-flame-virus-which-hit-middle-east