"Flame" — an incredibly sophisticated piece of malware — has become the best known computer malware since the Da Vinci virus from the 1995 film Hackers, making headlines as part of a refined, possibly state-sponsored, cyber-weapon used against Iran.
But what exactly is Flame?
Discovered by researchers at Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, the Flame is a worm that steals data and monitors the digital activity and correspondence of its victims. Not unlike the other fictional piece of malware, the Cylon virus of Battlestar Galactica, the Flame creates backdoors to access computers on a network and spreads through shared files or USB flash drives.
The Flame differs from similar pieces of malware like keyloggers in its level of sophistication. While it can log the keystrokes used on a computer it infects, it can also monitor the computer’s display, keep tabs on voice communication, and monitor the day to day workings of its host network. In short, Flame monitors almost everything that is done on the computer it infects.