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Researchers Discover Massive, Complex Cyber Attack

A highly complex cyber attack targeting countries such as Iran, Israel and Sudan has been discovered.

Moscow-based multinational computer security company Kaspersky Lab, working in conjunction with researchers from the UN's International Telecommunication Union, unveiled the malware, which is known as Flame. According to Kaspersky, Flame has been running since at least August of 2010, but likely existed prior to that.

The cyber attack, which the company describes as "one of the most complex threats ever discovered", is believed to be state-sponsored, mostly because it targeted geographically linked countries like Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. As well, the sheer complexity of Flame suggests it is a government operation and not the work of petty cybercriminals. Still, its origins are unknown.

The malware's primary function is to collect private data in the form traffic, screen shots and keyboard inputs from over 600 specific targets, ranging from individuals to academic institutions and government networks.

Flame's footprint on infected computers is 20MB, significantly larger, and more complex, than similar targeted cyber attacks discovered in the past. That means it could take years to analyse, Kaspersky researchers have said.

Image Credit: SecureList