World Bulletin/News Desk
A United Nations agency charged with helping member nations secure their national infrastructures plans to issue a sharp warning about the risk of the Flame computer virus that was recently discovered in Iran and other parts of the Middle East.
"This is the most serious (cyber) warning we have ever put out," said Marco Obiso, cyber security coordinator for the U.N.'s Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.
The confidential warning will tell member nations that the Flame virus is a dangerous espionage tool that could potentially be used to attack critical infrastructure, he told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
"They should be on alert," he said, adding that he believed Flame was likely built on behalf of a nation state.
The warning is the latest signal that a new era of cyber warfare has begun following the 2010 Stuxnet virus attack that targeted Iran's nuclear program. The United States explicitly stated for the first time last year that it reserved the right to retaliate with force against a cyber attack.
Evidence suggests that the Flame virus 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.
"I think it is a much more serious threat than Stuxnet," Obiso said.
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.
Kaspersky Lab said it found the Flame infection after the ITU asked the Russian company to investigate recent reports from Tehran that a mysterious virus was responsible for massive data losses on some Iranian computer systems.
So far, the Kaspersky team has not turned up the original data-wiping virus that they were seeking and the Iranian government has not provided Kaspersky a sample of that software, Obiso said.
A Pentagon spokesman asked about Flame referred reporters to the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS officials declined to respond to specific questions about the virus, but an agency spokesman issued a brief written statement that said: "DHS was notified of the malware and has been working with our federal partners to determine and analyze its potential impact on the U.S."
Some industry participants appeared skeptical that the threat was as serious as the UN agency and Kaspersky had suggested.
Jeff Moss, a respected hacking expert who sits on the U.S. government's Homeland Security Advisory Council, said that the ITU and Kaspersky were "over-reacting" to the spread of Flame.
"It will take time to disassemble, but it is not the end of the Net," said Moss, who serves as chief security officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which manages some of the Internet's key infrastructure.
"We seem to be getting to a point where every time new malware is discovered it's branded 'the worst ever,'" said Marcus Carey, a researcher at with cyber security firm Rapid7.
Organizations involved in cyber security keep some of their communications confidential to keep adversaries from developing strategies to combat their defenses and also to keep other hackers from obtaining details about emerging threats that they could use to build other pieces of malicious software.
Meanwhile on Tuesday Japanese security software maker Trend Micro Inc said it had discovered a complex cyber campaign to steal information using a piece of malicious software dubbed IXESHE. It had infected government computers in major East Asian countries along with Taiwanese electronics manufacturers and German telecommunications firms operating across Asia.
Trend Micro officials declined to identify the targets or say who they suspect was behind IXESHE (pronounced "i-sushi").
IXESHE infected PCs with tainted PDF files sent to victims via email, then stole large quantities of data from the PCs and sent it to servers in countries including Taiwan, the United States, South Korea, Brazil, Italy and Japan.
"The amount of data that the adversaries exfiltrated from these systems is astounding. These systems have essentially been colonized," Trend Micro Vice President Tom Kellermann said in an interview.
An ambitious project in Turkey's south could see a pioneering clean energy project.
Depending on local weather conditions, the eclipse was visible across a swath of the United States
Google and Facebook have been competing in innovative ways to increase internet access globally and tap into previously untouched markets.
A 14-year-old Dutch girl who sent a terror threat to American Airlines as a Twitter “joke” has been arrested by police in Rotterdam
The legal action is the first to emerge from a humiliating episode for Microsoft, which the software company has never fully explained and has accounted for only as a "technical error."
The widespread bug surfaced late on Monday, when it was disclosed that a pernicious flaw in a widely used Web encryption program known as OpenSSL opened hundreds of thousands of websites to data theft.
For some, increased connectivity has allowed them to see social network and sharing websites like Youtube and Facebook for the first time.
The suspects exploited the fact that some users had the same pin number or password for both credit cards and the loyalty card to create fake cards and charge items earlier this year
The radar is part of a safety system that ensures a failed rocket will not threatened populated areas.
The World's latest solar energy technologies with innovative products produced in Turkey will be showcased at the fair.
Kaspersky Lab uncovered evidence that a few hacking groups believed to be involved in state-sponsored cyber espionage were running such scans shortly after news of the bug first surfaced
Facebook did not specify how many ads will now appear in the right-hand column, though a sample image on the blog showed a single ad in the right-hand column
StoreDot's device charged a dead Samsung S4 smartphone battery in 26 seconds during a demonstration of the product.
Weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun could help U.S. forces retain their edge and give them an asymmetric advantage over rivals, making it too expensive to use missiles to attack U.S. warships because of the cheap way to defeat them.
Google and Facebook generally topped lists of Americans' concerns about the ability to track physical locations and monitor spending habits and personal communications