Discovered earlier this week, the newly discovered Flame malware virus was dubbed to be the most lethal cyberweapon to date and may have been running unnoticed for over 5 years.
The Flame virus (alternatively known as Flamer or sKyWIper) was found to have infected well over 5000 computer across seven Middle Eastern countries. It appears that the virus was specifically targeted and compromised computers in Iran, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This newly found virus is estimated to be at least 20 times more powerful than the Stuxnet worm that was responsible for disabling Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010.
The virus was discovered by the Moscow based anti-virus company, Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky states that the Flame virus has the ability to collect private data, take screen shots, copy instant messaging conversations, initiate Bluetooth connections, activate computer microphones for the purposes of recording conversations.
Experts state that the Flame went undetected for so long as it only infected a limited number of computers over a long period of time; which is indicative of a long-term surveillance scheme.
Popular anti-virus programs were unable to detect the virus as they rely on existing instances of a known virus in order to create a detection program that is based upon signatures developed by analyzing the behavioral patterns of the existing bad code.
The fact that the threat went for so long undetected, speaks of the existing state of virus detection and of the inherent flaws in cyber security and anti-virus software.