Washington: Iran has admitted that a data-mining virus dubbed ‘Flame’ had caused substantial damage and massive amounts of data had been lost in what may be most destructive cyber attack on the nation. The virus also damaged centrifuges operating at its uranium enrichment facility at Nantaz as reports said that even computers of high-ranking officials had been penetrated.
Tehran’s reaction came a day after Russia-based Internet security company Kaspersky Lab uncovered the virus ‘Flame’ which it said attacked computers in Iran and elsewhere in Middle East and may have been designed to collect and delete sensitive information. Iran’s MAHER Center, which is part of the Islamic Republic’s Communication ministry, said that the virus “has caused substantial damage” and that “massive amounts of data have been lost,” Ynetnews reported.
Iranian authorities admitted that the malicious software “Flame” has attacked its computer and systems and instructed to run an urgent inspection of all cyber systems in the country. The New York Times said the computers of high-ranking Iranian officials appear to have been penetrated in what it said may be the most destructive cyberattack on Iran since the notorious Stuxnet virus, an Iranian cyberdefence organisation had confirmed. In a message posted on its Web site, Iran’s Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center warned that the virus was dangerous.
An expert at the organisation said that it was potentially more harmful than the 2010 Stuxnet virus, which destroyed several centrifuges used for Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme. In contrast to Stuxnet, the newly identified virus is designed not to do damage but to collect information secretly from a wide variety of sources.