A top Israeli minister yesterday fed speculation that the Jewish state could be responsible for a powerful new virus said to have been used in a fresh attack on computers in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The discovery of the unprecedented complex data-stealing "Flame" virus was disclosed by a Russian-based digital security firm Kaspersky Lab. Its experts reported on Monday that it had been applied most actively in Iran, but also in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The Flame virus is believed to the third and, at least in information gathering, most effective cyber attack on Iranian computer systems in recent years. Tehran admitted the best known of these, Stuxnet, had damaged centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz in 2010.
The internet security industry has been both shocked and impressed by Flame's complexity and how dedicated it is to stealing as much intelligence data from a computer network as possible. Rik Ferguson, director of security research at Trend Micro, told The Independent: "It's a very comprehensive and bespoke piece of malware. It's further evidence that certain states or organisations are using malware to deliver very effective targeted attacks that can only be developed with significant planning and resources."