20 MB of massive computer virus, Flame continues to make its way around the Middle East, but where it came from is still very much a mystery. Initial Israeli hints at responsibility, centering on comments by Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, have since been retracted, claiming they were “out of context,” and similar claims of US responsibility have since been denied as well.
The virus first hit last month in Iran, targeting the nation’s oil industry with an arsenal of surveillance tools, taking screenshots, recording keystrokes, even turning on the computers’ microphones to record conversations.
Security experts term it a leap forward in complexity and sophistication of computer viruses, and despite its massive size it seems to be spreading at an alarming rate. Perhaps the scariest part is that with over 650,000 lines of code, those experts still aren’t entirely sure what all it can do.
Even the virus’ design is something of a mystery. It is written at least in part in the Lua scripting language, a relatively unusual language whose primary claim to fame is in video game scripting. This spawned speculation that some unknown cult of video game players had created the virus for some unknown reason, though of course Lua has broader applications than just video games and its similarity to Scheme potentially makes it a very powerful language.
The consequences of the Flame Virus continue to be debated worldwide, as past government-created cyberweapons like the Stuxnet Worm have been co-opted by other hacking groups for their own purposes. Calls to give the United Nations full regulatory control over the Internet, bolstered by Russian officials, are expected to gain further steam with the virus.
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