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Russia’s Internet security firm chief warns of deadly computer virus

June 06, 2012, 15:52 UTC+3
“It would be silly to try to use them. The same is true of cyber weapons. They work as a boomerang,” Kaspersky said
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Photo ITAR-TASS

Photo ITAR-TASS

TEL-AVIV, June 6 (Itar-Tass) —— One of Russia’s most well-reputed computer virus hunters, Yevgeny Kaspersky, has acknowledged that he is really scared by the scale of what he described as cyber pandemic humanity is faced with. He likened its likely effects to the apocalyptical scenarios of some Hollywood blockbusters. He issued a call to all countries to stop “before it is too late and there may come the end of the world we know.”

Russia’s ‘Kaspersky Laboratary’ Internet security firm has discovered an unprecedentedly powerful and intricate computer spy virus, which has hit thousands of computers in the Middle and Near East. The virus has been given the name Flame, which it owes to a line in its code. The harmful program that the world media and politicians have been talking about, and who have been trying to identify its creators and goals, allows for intercepting traffic, stealing data, including those displayed on the PC monitor, and even to make audio recordings of conversations.

“I am afraid this is just the beginning of a great game. Very soon many countries around the world will be able to see that. I am afraid that will be the end of the world that we all know. Around the globe there are so many computer systems, and our dependence on them is so great that you do not have to make additional explanations,” Kaspersky told an audience at the University of Tel-Aviv on Wednesday.

“Please, stop. If we keep moving in the same direction, the world will change a lot. That’s really frightening. I am scared. Believe me,” he said.

“Such a virus, which can be easily used as a delivery vehicle for far more dangerous functions (it will be enough to add on the respective ‘warhead’) – can be created in many countries,” Kaspersky said. He estimated the development costs at 100 million dollars.

“Even the countries that do not have the needed experience at this point can do this. They can hire specialists, steal them, or turn to computer hackers,” he warned. Kaspersky emphatically refused to speculate who might be responsible for creating Flame.

“Cyber weapons can replicate themselves and hit casual victims any place around the world, irrespective of how far away you may be from the conflict zone. The Internet ignores the national boundaries, and attacks may hit identical systems, for instance, electric power plants in a different part of the world,” Kaspersky said.

He outlined two possible scenarios of a cyber-pandemic – a wholesale Internet blackout or an attack against key infrastructures.

“Regrettably, there is no adequate protection in the world from this sort of attacks,” Kaspersky said. He speculated that to protect themselves from the cyber threat key facilities may stop using the most popular operating system, such as Windows and Linux.

“The sole way out will be international cooperation. The governments must start talking to each other,” he said. Kaspersky compared the cyber weapons with the weapons of mass destruction, biological in the first place.

“It would be silly to try to use them. The same is true of cyber weapons. They work as a boomerang,” Kaspersky said.

Asked about his vision of the likely effects of a global cyber attack Kaspersky recalled the blockbuster Die Hard-4. Kaspersky said he was watching the film with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in the other and exclaiming all the time: “Why are you helping them?”

“Before Die Hard-4 the word cyber terrorism was a taboo in my company. It could not be uttered aloud or discussed with the media. I tried to keep the Pandora Box closed. When the film hit the screens, I canceled that ban,” he said.

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