Flame spy virus gets order to vanish: experts

Jun 10, 2012 by Glenn Chapman
This undated screen grab taken released by the Kaspersky Lab site shows a program of the computer virus known as Flame. US computer security researchers said Sunday that the Flame computer virus that smoldered undetected for years in Middle Eastern energy facilities has gotten orders to vanish, leaving no trace.

US computer security researchers said Sunday that the Flame computer virus that smoldered undetected for years in Middle Eastern energy facilities has gotten orders to vanish, leaving no trace.

Anti-virus company said in a blog post that late last week, some "command-and-control servers sent an updated command to several compromised computers."

"This command was designed to completely remove (Flame) from the compromised computers."

Flame (malware) appears to have been "in the wild" for two years or longer and prime targets so far have been energy facilities in the Middle East, especially in Iran.

The discovery of Flame immediately sparked speculation that it had been created by US and Israeli security services to steal information about Iran's controversial nuclear drive.

Kaspersky Lab, one of the world's biggest producers of anti-virus software, said the Flame virus was "about 20 times larger than Stuxnet," the worm which was discovered in June 2010 and used against the Iranian .

High concentrations of computers compromised by Flame were also found in Lebanon, the West Bank and Hungary. Additional infections have been reported in Austria, Russia, Hong Kong and the .

Compromised computers included many being used from home connections, according to who were looking into whether reports of infections in some places resulted from workers using laptops while traveling.

While the components and tactics of Flame were considered old-school, the gigantic virus's interchangeable software modules and targeted nature were evidence that malware is a potent weapon in the Internet era.

Computers infected with malware are typically programmed to reach out on the Internet to get updated orders from command servers controlled by hackers.

In this case, it appeared that Flame masters gave an order for the malware to vanish, leaving behind no trail that investigators might be able to follow or clues to its origin.

The self-destruct command was evidently sent after Flame was exposed and investigations commenced.

Infected computers that got the command went on to delete an array of files and then cram disks with random characters to thwart recovery of original code, according to security researchers.

It was unknown how many infected computers received the self-destruct command.

Flame was designed to suck information from computer networks and relay what it learned back to those controlling the virus. It can record keystrokes, capture screen images, and eavesdrop using microphones built into computers.

In an intriguing twist, the can also use Bluetooth capabilities in machines to connect with smartphones or tablets, mining contact lists or other information, according to security researchers.

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User comments : 3

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Cave_Man
2.5 / 5 (11) Jun 10, 2012
It's called skynet, get in the know. It's not people it's machines, which will soon infect as many people as possibly with nanobots instructed to construct "computers" in-viva using organic materials. Have you bought a cellphone recently? You have been infected with a nano-bot(s).

The future is not ours, it's theirs and they are intent on keeping it that way. Pretty soon they will use robot insects to infect you. Good luck people.

Hehehe j/k....or am I?

Live like you are alive.
Burnerjack
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 10, 2012
Flame is a myth created by the Iranians to both explain away their own ineptitude, thereby possibly sparing the lives of their nuclear scientists and generating maximum ill will in the Arab world towards Americans and of course, the Jooooz.
rwinners
not rated yet Jun 11, 2012
Flame and Stuxnet are weapons of war. Odd, isn't it? At least there are no bombs falling on cities or gases spreading....

could be worse!