LONDON – A new computer virus tied to some of the most sophisticated cyberweapons thus-far discovered has been found circulating in the Middle East, a Moscow-based computer security company said Thursday. If a link were confirmed, the find would expand the electronic arsenal reportedly deployed by the U.S. and Israel against their rivals in the region.
Kaspersky Lab ZAO said in a statement that the new virus, dubbed “Gauss,” was aimed at stealing financial information from customers of a series of Lebanese banks.
The firm said that similarities in coding, structure and operation meant it could say “with a high degree of certainty” that Gauss was related to “Flame,” a piece of spyware which prompted an Internet blackout across Iran’s oil industry in April, and to “Stuxnet,” an infrastructure-wrecking worm whose discovery revolutionized the cybersecurity field.
The statement acknowledged that much remained unclear about its capabilities – including its ultimate purpose. Kaspersky said that the virus’s command-and-control servers were shut down last month, meaning that, for the time being, “the malware is in a dormant state.”