Flame virus: How It Affects OS and Network Systems and What to Do
The cyber space is currently in the era of a new virus attack; we have actually been living with a virus called the ‘Flame’ which was recently detected by a security software firm. The Flame virus is a fresh high level spy tool which has been operating under the radar – undetected by most of the computer protection suites in the market. Unfortunately, that was the cold truth until it was brought to the lime light by the Kaspersky Lab – a well known producer of anti-virus software. The Flame was designed specifically to, unnoticeably, steal data from infected machines like documents, screenshots and audio recordings. According to Kaspersky, this is the most advanced spy tool it has uncovered – the Flame has been in use as a secret weapon to attack entities in several countries.
David Marcus, the McAfee Labs director of security research, having actively traced this new virus with their technology, couldn’t say less of Flame as being a complete spy-tool which was perfectly crafted by someone who has already known his target audience. According to him, Flame was designed by an attacker who knows his victim and thus fitted the malware with the features and operation procedures that do not only suit the usage of target machines but conforms with any security tool or protocol that may be active on the machine.
What Does The Flame Virus Do?
According to David Marcus, the functionality and complexity of the Flame virus is similar to that of Stuxnet malware which was discovered in 2010.
…Well, if you have forgotten, the Stuxnet malware was a specific virus crafted to target computer control systems and networks; specifically those managing energy plants, water supplies, drilling rigs and many other interesting crucial infrastructures. During the early days of this malware, the highest infections were discovered in Iran. With regards to the fact that the Middle East was into nuclear facilities as of that time, this discovery led to speculations that the Stuxnet malware was designed to sabotage their activities. This belief rapidly took the world and suspicions feel on Israel and the United States which are the two countries that openly accused Iran of developing a nuclear weapon.
Though, the Flame virus is more robust and effective than Stuxnet malware, they share the same line of work. The Flame being stronger and more sophisticated was built with multiple layers of encryptions. Also, while the developer of the Stuxnet malware has not been identified, the right authorities and experts are yet to determine who may be behind the Flame virus as well.
Who Has Been Infected?
The Flame virus has been spreading within the Middle Eastern energy facilities for about two years. Machine casualties are basically those used in home networks, use-on-the-go machines that can be carried on travels and other vital network infrastructures in Palestine West bank, Hungary, Lebanon and of course Iran. There have been several other reported infections in Austria, Russia and Hong Kong, including the United Arab Emirates. Does this give you a jilt? The Flame can also leverage the Bluetooth capability of victimized machines to attack mobile devices like smartphone or tablets. What a virus!
Flame Virus Exploits Flaws in Operating Systems
Microsoft screamed and warned users that the Flame virus takes advantage of undisclosed flaw in the Windows operating system. Mike Reavey, one of the directors with Microsoft’s Security Response Center, made this known while stating that the warning to PC users was because other hackers might work through this route to launch another malware that may exploit other flaws. The Flame virus is capable of getting itself installed in computers running on Windows OS by tricking Windows into believing that it is a genuine, legitimate program from Microsoft. This has facilitated its spread and operations while making it even more undetectable.
What Should You Do?
It doesn’t matter whether your PC is running on windows OS or if you are not based somewhere in the Middle East; we all know that Microsoft has quite a huge customer list, including corporations and while you may not reside in Iran or plan to pass the route of any of the infected countries any time soon, whenever there is a news about a new cyberweapon, remember the saying that “what goes around comes around”. Hence as a computer owner or network manager, you owe it to yourself to ensure the security of your PC/network. According to David Marcus, the initial steps you should take involve making sure that your network software is up to date and maintaining high/aggressive security settings.