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Flame Turns On Computer Microphones, Takes Screen Shots, Copies Data, Records Communications
May 30, 2012
To the disbelief of many of our readers, in a 2011 report titled Everything You Do Is Monitored, we noted that microphones and cameras on cell phones and computers allow interested parties (translated to mean your respective government) to hear and see everything going on in the direct vicinity of the device without the knowledge of its owner.
That these monitoring features are available on cell phones was a known fact, as FBI surveillance networks already have the ability to turn on any cell phone microphone or camera remotely without tipping off the user. It’s believed that this surveillance technique can work even when the cell phone user has shut down their phone, with the only surefire way to prevent such surveillance being removal of the unit’s battery.
Computers, however, were believed to be secure from these kinds of backdoors, and the majority of computer users believe their PC’s are protected from such intrusive technologies once they install virus and malware protection software.
However, a new virus identified by leading digital security firm Kaspersky Lab, is reportedly capable of not only embedding itself onto computer systems without being identified by traditional anti-virus applications, but able to execute total surveillance and monitoring that includes turning on your camera and microphone, copying your data, and recording emails and chat conversations.
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.
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.
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.
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 Schouwenberg.
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.
“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.
With a new National Security Agency data center coming online and capable of capturing, aggregating and analyzing every digital communication in the United States, cellphones and computers having in excess of 99% penetration across the country, and some 30,000 drones being prepared for domestic operations, we can safely say that a total police state surveillance infrastructure is now in place and fully capable of monitoring everything - and we mean EVERYTHING – that you do.
The Matrix has you…
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