Middle Eastern countries could be feeling the effects of malware attacks via a newly discovered program called Flame. The BBC reports that the malware was first discovered by Kaspersky Labs but may have been released as early as August 2010.
Kaspersky Labs also believes that Flame could be state-sponsored, meaning that its creation was ordered by one or more world governments. This is similar to the Stuxnet worm that was released in 2010 and went after Iran's nuclear research program. That malware attack is believed to have been created with the help of US and the Israel's Mossad intelligence group.
By contrast, the newly found Flame malware is not designed to bring down data centers but simply to collect data from the affected systems. Kaspersky Labs' Vitaly Kamluk said, "Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on."
Flame is also very large for a malware program; about 20 MB in size. That also suggests that it was created by an outside government. Iran, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among the Middle Eastern countries that reportedly have installed the Flame malware, with over 600 targets affected by it; so far no one has claimed responsibility.