News / Middle East

Iran Says It Can Destroy Data-Stealing Virus

A U.S. cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer, December 1, 2011.A U.S. cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer, December 1, 2011.
x
A U.S. cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer, December 1, 2011.
A U.S. cyber warfare expert works on his laptop computer, December 1, 2011.
The Iranian government said Tuesday it has produced an antivirus program capable of fighting what computer experts are calling "the most sophisticated cyber weapon yet unleashed."

The data-stealing virus has been infecting computers in Iran and other parts of the Middle East.

Iran's Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (CERTCC) said Tuesday the antivirus tool can identify and remove the sophisticated spyware, identified a day earlier by a Russian Internet security company. The Iranian ministry did not say if the virus had done any damage.

Fast Facts: The "Flame" Virus

  • Most sophisticated malicious software ever discovered.
  • Can record sounds, access Bluetooth, capture screen shot images and log conversations
  • Uses a network of 80 servers across Asia, Europe and North America to access infected machines.
  • Iran had the largest number of infected computers
  • 1,000 to 5,000 machines infected worldwide.

Source: Kaspersky Lab
Russia's Kaspersky Lab dubbed the virus "Flame" and described it as a malicious program whose "complexity and functionality exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date." It said the virus has stolen information from computers in Iran, Israel and other parts of the region.

In a separate report, the Hungarian Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security named the virus "sKyWIper" and said Hungarian computers also have been infected.

The spyware works by copying files and activating computer microphones to record conversations before sending the data through a series of servers to the program source.

No one has claimed responsibility for the computer attacks.

But Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon said Tuesday cyber weapons such as Flame are a "reasonable" tool for any nation trying to "hobble" the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. He also said Israel is a "technologically rich" nation whose tools "open up all sorts of opportunities."

Tensions between Iran and Israel have increased steadily in recent months, as has speculation about a possible Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear sites. Iran says its controversial nuclear program is peaceful. But talks have been continuing with world powers to curb Iran's weapons capability.

Iran suffered a major cyberattack in 2010 when a virus known as Stuxnet knocked out computers at its nuclear facilities. Tehran has blamed the Stuxnet attack on Israel and the West, whom it accuses of trying to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program.

The head of science, technology and security at Tel Aviv University, Isaac Ben-Israel, said the Flame virus uses a different software language from Stuxnet, making it unlikely the two are related. He also said Flame is the largest virus of its kind ever detected with a file size of 20 megabytes.

Ben-Israel said Flame is not the most dangerous virus because it steals information rather than causing damage in the physical world.

"If you speak about danger, the real danger in using cyber technology is damaging computers which control physical systems like trains and power production," he said.

Ben-Israel said the virus appears to be the work of a government with sufficient resources to invest in gathering intelligence from the Middle East. He said 60 to 70 countries have such capabilities, but doubted the Israeli government is responsible because Israel is among the nations whose computers have been infected.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid