U.N. International Telecommunications Union: Flame virus is the most powerful espionage tool ever to target countries • Iranians blame Israel, admit their computers have been affected • “Unfortunately, the Israelis are very powerful in the field of IT.”
Iran on Tuesday admitted that the computers of high-ranking officials had been attacked by a software virus and accused Israel of responsibility for cyberattacks on Iranian computer systems by means of the Flame malware.
The admission came as the U.N. agency responsible for regulating the internet warned that the Flame virus is the most powerful espionage tool ever to target countries.
This is the most serious warning we have ever put out,” said Marco Obiso, cybersecurity coordinator for the U.N.’s Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.
The formal warning will tell member nations that the Flame virus is a dangerous espionage tool that could potentially be used to attack critical infrastructure, he said. “They should be on alert.” The warning is the latest signal that a new era of cyberwarfare has begun following the 2010 Stuxnet virus attack that targeted Iranian nuclear installation computers.
He said the ITU would set up a program to collect data, including virus samples, to track Flame’s spread around the globe and observe any changes in its composition.
Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab ZAO said the Flame virus was unprecedented both in terms of its size and complexity, possessing the ability to turn infected computers into all-purpose spying machines that can even suck information out of nearby cell phones. On its blog, Kaspersky called Flame “the most sophisticated cyberweapon yet unleashed.”