Powerful "Flame" cyber weapon found in Iran

Discussion in 'Anti-Virus' started by Virus Guy, May 29, 2012.

  1. Virus Guy

    Virus Guy Guest

    Powerful "Flame" cyber weapon found in Iran


    BOSTON (Reuters) - Security experts said on Monday a highly
    sophisticated computer virus is infecting computers in Iran and other
    Middle East countries and may have been deployed at least five years ago
    to engage in state-sponsored cyber espionage.

    Evidence suggest that the virus, dubbed Flame, may have been built on
    behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm
    that attacked Iran's nuclear program in 2010, according to Kaspersky
    Lab, the Russian cyber security software maker that took credit for
    discovering the infections.

    Kaspersky researchers said they have yet to determine whether Flame had
    a specific mission like Stuxnet, and declined to say who they think
    built it.

    (of course it was either the US or Israel)

    Iran has accused the United States and Israel of deploying Stuxnet.

    Cyber security experts said the discovery publicly demonstrates what
    experts privy to classified information have long known: that nations
    have been using pieces of malicious computer code as weapons to promote
    their security interests for several years.

    "This is one of many, many campaigns that happen all the time and never
    make it into the public domain," said Alexander Klimburg, a cyber
    security expert at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs.

    A cyber security agency in Iran said on its English website that Flame
    bore a "close relation" to Stuxnet, the notorious computer worm that
    attacked that country's nuclear program in 2010 and is the first
    publicly known example of a cyber weapon.

    Iran's National Computer Emergency Response Team also said Flame might
    be linked to recent cyber attacks that officials in Tehran have said
    were responsible for massive data losses on some Iranian computer

    Kaspersky Lab said it discovered Flame after a U.N. telecommunications
    agency asked it to analyze data on malicious software across the Middle
    East in search of the data-wiping virus reported by Iran.


    Experts at Kaspersky Lab and Hungary's Laboratory of Cryptography and
    System Security who have spent weeks studying Flame said they have yet
    to find any evidence that it can attack infrastructure, delete data or
    inflict other physical damage.

    Yet they said they are in the early stages of their investigations and
    that they may discover other purposes beyond data theft. It took
    researchers months to determine the key mysteries behind Stuxnet,
    including the purpose of modules used to attack a uranium enrichment
    facility at Natanz, Iran.

    If Kaspersky's findings are validated, Flame could go down in history as
    the third major cyber weapon uncovered after Stuxnet and its
    data-stealing cousin Duqu, named after the Star Wars villain.

    The Moscow-based company is controlled by Russian malware researcher
    Eugene Kaspersky. It gained notoriety after solving several mysteries
    surrounding Stuxnet and Duqu.

    Officials with Symantec Corp and Intel Corp McAfee security division,
    the top 2 makers of anti-virus software, said they were studying Flame.

    "It seems to be more complex than Duqu but it's too early to tell its
    place in history," said Dave Marcus, director of advanced research and
    threat intelligence with McAfee.

    Symantec Security Response manager Vikram Thakur said that his company's
    experts believed there was a "high" probability that Flame was among the
    most complex pieces of malicious software ever discovered.

    At least one rival of Kaspersky expressed skepticism.

    Privately held Webroot said its automatic virus-scanning engines
    detected Flame in December 2007, but that it did not pay much attention
    because the code was not particularly menacing.

    That is partly because it was easy to discover and remove, said Webroot
    Vice President Joe Jaroch. "There are many more dangerous threats out
    there today," he said.


    Kaspersky's research shows the largest number of infected machines are
    in Iran, followed by Israel and the Palestinian territories, then Sudan
    and Syria.

    The virus contains about 20 times as much code as Stuxnet, which caused
    centrifuges to fail at the Iranian enrichment facility it attacked. It
    has about 100 times as much code as a typical virus designed to steal
    financial information, said Kaspersky Lab senior researcher Roel

    Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn
    on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log
    instant messaging chats.

    Kaspersky Lab said Flame and Stuxnet appear to infect machines by
    exploiting the same flaw in the Windows operating system and that both
    viruses employ a similar way of spreading.

    That means the teams that built Stuxnet and Duqu might have had access
    to the same technology as the team that built Flame, Schouwenberg said.

    He said that a nation state would have the capability to build such a
    sophisticated tool, but declined to comment on which countries might do

    The question of who built flame is sure to become a hot topic in the
    security community as well as the diplomatic world.

    There is some controversy over who was behind Stuxnet and Duqu. Some
    experts suspect the United States and Israel, a view that was laid out
    in a January 2011 New York Times report that said it came from a joint
    program begun around 2004 to undermine what they say are Iran's efforts
    to build a bomb.

    The U.S. Defense Department, CIA, State Department, National Security
    Agency, and U.S. Cyber Command declined to comment.

    Hungarian researcher Boldizsar Bencsath, whose Laboratory of
    Cryptography and Systems Security first discovered Duqu, said his
    analysis shows that Flame may have been active for at least five years
    and perhaps eight years or more.

    That implies it was active long before Stuxnet.

    "It's huge and overly complex, which makes me think it's a
    first-generation data gathering tool," said Neil Fisher, vice president
    for global security solutions at Unisys Corp. "We are going to find more
    of these things over time."

    Others said cyber weapons technology has inevitably advanced since Flame
    was built.

    "The scary thing for me is: if this is what they were capable of five
    years ago, I can only think what they are developing now," Mohan Koo,
    managing director of British-based Dtex Systems cyber security company.

    Some experts speculated that the discovery of the virus may have dealt a
    psychological blow to its victims, on top of whatever damage Flame may
    have already inflicted to their computers.

    "If a government initiated the attack it might not care that the attack
    was discovered," said Klimburg of the Austrian Institute for
    International Affairs. "The psychological effect of the penetration
    could be nearly as profitable as the intelligence gathered."
    Virus Guy, May 29, 2012
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  2. Virus Guy

    Shadow Guest


    I might be a tiny bit biased, but isn't Flame just a watered
    down version of Google ?

    Shadow, May 29, 2012
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  3. Virus Guy wrote:

    They may be right.
    FromTheRafters, May 29, 2012
  4. Virus Guy

    Virus Guy Guest


    Flame: Bunny, Frog, Munch and BeetleJuice…

    Kaspersky Lab Expert
    Posted May 29, 20:30 GMT

    As already mentioned in the previous blog post about Flame, the volume
    of its code and functionality are so great that it will take several
    months for a complete analysis. We’re planning on continually disclosing
    in our publications the most important and interesting details of its
    functionality as we reveal them.

    At the moment we are receiving many inquiries about how to check systems
    for a Flame infection. Of course the simplest answer, for us, is to
    advise to use Kaspersky Lab Antivirus or Internet Security. We
    successfully detect and delete all possible modifications of the main
    module and extra components of Flame.

    However, for those who want to carry out a detailed check themselves, at
    the end of this article we will give the necessary recommendations and


    The main module of Flame is a DLL file called mssecmgr.ocx. We’ve
    discovered two modifications of this module. Most of the infected
    machines contained its “big” version, 6 Mb in size, and carrying and
    deploying additional modules. The smaller version’s size is only 900 Kb
    and contains no additional modules. After installation, the small module
    connects to one of the C&C servers and tries to download and install the
    remaining components from there.

    Mssecmgr may be called different names on actual infected machines,
    depending on the method of infection and the current internal state of
    the malware (installation, replication, upgrade), e.g., wavsup3.drv,
    ~zff042.ocx, msdclr64.ocx, etc.

    Complete analysis of the mssecmgr module will follow in our upcoming
    blog posts.

    The first activation of this file is initiated by one of the external
    features - either Windows WMI tools using a MOF file if the MS10-061
    exploit is used, or using a BAT file:

    s1 = new ActiveXObject("Wscript.Shell");
    (source code of MOF file, svchostevt.mof)

    When activated, mssecmgr registers itself as a custom authentication
    package in the Windows registry:

    Authentication Packages = mssecmgr.ocx [added to existing entries]

    On the next system boot, the module is loaded automatically by the
    operating system.

    After updating the Windows registry, mssecmgr extracts any additional
    modules that are present in its encrypted and compressed resource
    section (resource “146”) and installs them. The resource is a dictionary
    that contains configuration options for mssecmgr and other modules, the
    modules themselves (DLL files), and parameters that need to be passed to
    these modules to load them properly, i.e., decryption keys.

    We are analyzing the additional modules and will provide more
    information about their functionality in coming blog posts.

    When installation is completed, mssecmgr loads available modules and
    starts several execution threads that implement a channel to the C&C
    servers and Lua interpreter host, and other features - depending on the
    configuration. The functionality of the module is separated into
    different “units” that have different namespaces in the configuration
    resource and have distinct names in log messages, which are extensively
    used throughout the code.

    Here is a brief overview of the available units. The names were
    extracted from the binary and the 146 resource.

    (see table of unit names and functions, and more, at the above URL)
    Virus Guy, May 30, 2012
  5. Virus Guy

    alnico-blue Guest

    More info here..
    alnico-blue, May 30, 2012
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