A new computer virus similar to the Stuxnet virus has been found by Russia's Kaspersky Lab. It can gather information on banking transaction and steal login information for email and social networking websites. It has been dubbed 'gauss'
AFP and Reuters quote the top IT security firm Kaspersky Lab which said that this virus is a "complex, nation-state sponsored cyber-espionage toolkit," developed with an aim of stealing sensitive data.
The Russian company stated that this virus has similarities to the Stuxnet and Flame viruses. This program was discovered in June 2012 but evidence suggests that it may have been in use since September of 2011. It has the same source code as the Flame virus which seemed to have been designed to steal information relating to Iran's nuclear program.
The U.S. and Israel are the prime suspects behind its creation.
Gauss has infected more than 2,500 personnel computers, the majority of them located in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Kaspersky Lab has not speculated on who was behind it but stated it was clearly connected to Stuxnet and Flame. The U.S. Department of Defense has declined to comment.
It comes as no surprise to many that a large portion of Gauss infections were found in Lebanon. An anonymous U.S. intelligence expert on money laundering was quoted as stating that "Beirut is a hot spot for the clandestine movement of money by states."
Kaspersky stated on its website that "after looking at Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same 'factory' or 'factories.' All these attack toolkits represent the high end of nation-state-sponsored cyber-espionage and cyber war operations."