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State-Sponsored Malware ‘Flame’ Has Smaller, More Devious Cousin

By: Kim Zetter, WIRED

Researchers have uncovered new nation-state espionage malware that has ties to two previous espionage tools known as Flame and Gauss, and that appears to be a “high-precision, surgical attack tool” targeting victims in Lebanon, Iran and elsewhere.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, who discovered the malware, are calling the new malware miniFlame, although the attackers who designed it called it by two other names – “SPE” and “John.” MiniFlame seems to be used to gain control of and obtain increased spying capability over select computers originally infected by the Flame and Gauss spyware.

It is the fourth piece of nation-state malware discovered in the last year that appears to have been created by the same group behind Stuxnet, the groundbreaking cyberweapon that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program and is believed to have been created by the U.S. and Israeli governments. The others – all designed for espionage rather than destruction – are DuQu, Flame, and Gauss.

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