The Times West Virginian

World News

May 31, 2012

Computer virus briefly hits Iran’s oil industry

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s key oil industry was briefly affected by the powerful computer virus known as “Flame” that has unprecedented data-snatching capabilities and can eavesdrop on computer users, a senior Iranian military official said Wednesday.

The comment is the first direct link between the emergence of the new malware and an attack inside a highly sensitive computer system in Iran, which counts on oil revenue for 80 percent of its income. The full extent of last month’s disruptions has not been given, but Iran was forced to cut Internet links to the country’s main oil export terminal presumably to try to contain the virus.

It would be the latest high-profile virus to penetrate Iran’s computer defenses in the past two years, boosting speculation that Israeli programmers could have struck again.

Experts see technological links between Flame and the highly focused Stuxnet virus, which was tailored to disrupt Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in 2010. Many suspect Stuxnet was the work of Israeli intelligence.

Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads an Iranian military unit in charge of fighting sabotage, claimed that Iranian experts had detected and defeated the “Flame” virus. He told state radio that the oil industry was the only governmental body seriously affected and that all data that had been lost were retrieved.

“This virus penetrated some fields. One of them was the oil sector. Fortunately, we detected and controlled this single incident,” Jalali said. “We could also retrieve the information that was lost.”

Jalali said there has been no report of any other governmental agency being affected by the virus.

Iran’s government-run Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center has said the highly sophisticated Flame virus appeared linked to espionage, but cited no specific country or source. International suspicion, however, immediately fell on Iran’s archfoe Israel.

Israel’s vice premier did little to deflect suspicion about the country’s possible involvement in the cyberattack.

“Whoever sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat is likely to take various steps, including these, to hobble it,” Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio when asked about Flame on Tuesday. “Israel is blessed with high technology, and we boast tools that open all sorts of opportunities for us.”

Ali Hakim Javadi, Iran’s deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Wednesday that Iranian experts have already produced an anti-virus capable of identifying and removing Flame from computers.

The Computer Center “has produced an anti-virus capable of detecting and removing the Flame for the first time in the world,” IRNA quoted Javadi as saying.

 “The anti-virus software was delivered to selected organizations in early May.”

The Russian Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab ZAO said the Flame virus is unprecedented in size and complexity.

Kaspersky’s conclusion that the virus was crafted at the behest of a national government has fueled speculation it could be part of an Israeli-backed campaign of electronic sabotage against the Jewish state’s archenemy.

The virus can activate a computer’s audio systems to listen in on Skype calls or office chatter. It can also take screenshots, log keystrokes and — in one of its more novel functions— steal data from Bluetooth-enabled cellphones.

Aftana.ir, a government-run website, said the Flame has been active since 2010, the same year when a virus known as Stuxnet disrupted controls of some nuclear centrifuges and some other industrial sites in Iran.

Iran has acknowledged that Stuxnet affected a limited number of its centrifuges — a key component in the production of nuclear fuel — at its main uranium enrichment facility in the central city of Natanz. But Tehran has said its scientists discovered and neutralized the malware before it could cause serious damage.

Iran says is has previously discovered one more espionage virus, Duqu, but that the malware did no harm Iran’s nuclear or industrial sites. Jalali said Flame is the third.

Iran says Stuxnet and other computer virus attacks are part of a concerted campaign by Israel, the U.S. and their allies to undermine its nuclear program and economy.

 

1
Text Only
World News
  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.
    But before inspectors ever reach the scene, doubts arose about whether evidence was being compromised.

    July 20, 2014

  • Without radar, missile may not have identified jet

    If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.
    American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

    July 20, 2014

  • U.S.: Can’t rule out Russian role in plane downing

    U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the United States cannot rule out that Russia helped in the launch of the surface-to-air missile that shot down a Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

    July 19, 2014

  • Airlines and risky Ukraine airspace

    The shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane with nearly 300 people on board over war-torn eastern Ukraine is likely to have profound consequences for the world’s airlines.
    Airlines are already being more vigilant about avoiding trouble spots.

    July 19, 2014

  • APTOPIX Ukraine Plane_time.jpg Malaysian flight ‘blown from the sky’

    Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down a Malaysian jetliner with 295 people aboard Thursday, sharply escalating the crisis and threatening to draw both East and West deeper into the conflict. The rebels denied downing the aircraft.
    American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the plane down but were still working on who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border, a U.S. official said.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malaysia: Jetliner did not make distress call

    The Malaysia Airlines jetliner that went down in war-torn Ukraine did not make any distress call, Malaysia’s prime minister said Friday, adding that its flight route also had been declared safe by the global civil aviation body.
    Prime Minister Najib Razak, who addressed a news conference after speaking with leaders of Ukraine, the Netherlands, and President Barack Obama, said “no stone will be left unturned” in finding out what happened to Flight 17.

    July 18, 2014

  • AP source: Missile took down jet in Ukraine

    American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile took down a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, a U.S. official said, but the Obama administration was still scrambling to confirm who launched the strike and whether there were American citizens killed in the crash.

    July 18, 2014

  • Israeli troops raid rocket-launching site in Gaza

    Ignoring international appeals for a cease-fire, Israel widened its range of Gaza bombing targets to civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties and deployed ground troops inside Gaza for the first time early Sunday to raid a rocket launching site in the Palestinian territory. More than 156 Palestinians have been killed in five days of bombardment.

    July 13, 2014

  • More than 100 killed in Gaza as rockets fall on Israel

    With the official Palestinian count of the dead passing 100, and rockets fired by militants striking Israel from the Gaza Strip and from Lebanon, Israel’s prime minister on Friday brushed off a question about cease-fire efforts.

    July 12, 2014

  • Gaza dead tops 85; Israel presses offensive

    The Al Haj family never heard it coming: An Israeli missile smashed into their home in the middle of the night, destroying the structure and killing eight relatives in a matter of seconds. A survivor said all the dead were civilians.

    July 10, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads