What is Flame Malware?
Viruses, Spam, Trojans and Malware all have one thing in common, they harm computers. Today, it’s not even just out desktops we have to protect; it’s our smart phones and tablets that can be affected as well. Anything with an internet connection is susceptible to being hacked by these all too familiar problems. About once a day new security definitions come out from anti-virus products to keep their customers computers up-to-date to protect them from the latest threats as they develop. Now, there’s yet another threat that we all face called Flame Malware.
A Russian-based anti-virus software firm, Kaspersky, was the first to discover the Flame malware and provide information and find a way to protect against it. Experts have noted that Flame is one of the most complex threats that have been discovered. Typically, the creators of malware don’t protect the data that they have just retrieved. The developer Flame actually heavily encrypts the data retrieved on the origin servers and uses a strong public key cryptography to ensure only the creators can access the information.
This new type of malware is dangerous because of its stealthy capturing of screenshots, data and even records conversations. This may seem like a fairly new issue, but it’s actually been around for over three years now, mainly affecting the Middle East. The biggest concern undoubtedly would be the security of personal account information, illegal recording of audio and visual capacities and an overall feeling of being watched.
Malware is defined as software that is intended to damage a computer, mobile device, computer system, or computer network, or to take partial control over its operation. Flame aspires to control the infected computer system rendering it completely vulnerable to obtaining information from said device. Anything that can remotely control a device or damage a computer network such as a whole company’s network is a dangerous tool.
Flame is being looked at as an information gathering software program that actually can obtain large amounts of information. The program that is downloaded onto a computer is twenty megabytes in size, where a typical virus is only ten-twenty kilobytes, showing that the program is intelligent and knows how to find the information its creator is targeting. Flame has the capability of using Bluetooth technology to detect and gather information from other devices nearby, like a smart phone or similar devices.
The program is created to hack Windows based operating systems, so all other platforms for the time being, are safe from this. Flame does search a lot of information on a computer from email to histories, but one thing it looks for in particular is a program, AutoCAD. This program is used by architects and designers to convert a sketch of buildings or other objects into a 3D model and create printable blueprints that are used to build the object to exact specifications.
Viruses and malware are easy to keep out of systems once proper anti-virus software has been updated and is in effect. Microsoft had released a patch to shut down the program’s access capabilities, but even they admit prevention with an anti-virus program is the best way to ensure safety. There are many anti-virus systems that aid in this process; a few of them are Norton, AVG, McAfee and Trend Micro.
Although this is mainly affecting the Middle East, there have been reports of Flame in other areas such as, Hong Kong, Austria and Hungary. The main areas inside the Middle East appear to be Iran, Syria, Sudan and Lebanon. Reports also indicate that Israel and West Bank are also affected. A lot of people are concerned where this is coming from and what the intention of the information gathering is. The discovery of Flame makes experts think there are more strains that look like the program, doing the same damage in a different way. The late discovery of the malware also shows experts that there are likely many more security threats of a similar nature that have yet to be discovered.
The biggest problem with viruses and malware is that once it’s done its job and infected a machine there’s little hope of shutting it down before anything is sent out. The name of the game here is prevention, making sure that the system is already looking for signs of the problem and blocks it. Viruses, Trojans, malware and spam have always been a problem, even in the days of dial-up internet. Protection from anti-virus software has always been the solution to this threat.
The upcoming film by Rubidium Wu, Crow Hill, touches on the topic of the cyberwar and viruses similar to Flame Malware and others. To find out more about this film, go here.