Flame Virus

What Does Flame Virus Mean?

Flame is a powerful virus discovered by Russian security organization Kaspersky Labs in May 2012. It is suspected that Flame is aimed at the government systems of nations in the Middle East, especially Iran. This deadly virus is reported to have a code base at least 20 times larger than that of Stuxnet, which was a very dangerous virus that targeted Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. Flame is believed to be exclusively designed to steal top secret information.


Flame has the ability to collect data files, switch on PC microphones to capture conversations, remotely modify the settings on computers, record instant messaging conversations and grab screen shots.

Techopedia Explains Flame Virus

According to the research from Kaspersky, the majority of infected systems are in Iran, followed by Palestinian, Israel, Syria and Sudan. Researchers suspect that the Flame virus belongs to the same family of the notorious and malicious Stuxnet program and its successor, Duqu. Kaspersky Labs considers the introduction of the Flame virus another phase in cyberwarfare.

Per the technical analysis of Crysys Lab, a unit investigating viruses at Budapest University, the Flame virus has been created by a nation state or government with significant funding behind its design.

Crysys Lab authorities claim that the Flame virus is carefully engineered to be highly potent and secretly gather information from large networks of infected machines. The Flame virus tackles all important opportunities to collect information, such as the screen, keyboard, Wi-Fi, microphone, network, storage devices, system processes, Bluetooth and USBs.

Investigators illustrate unparalleled software layers, which are intended to unnoticeably permit the Flame virus to break into computer networks. The 20 MB file infects Microsoft Windows computers and includes five encryption algorithms and unique data storage models.

At the time the virus was discovered, Crysys Lab claimed that a link between Flame, Stuxnet and Duqu has not yet been proven. Although they share several common elements, Flame bears only minor similarity to the other viruses. For example, the Flame virus does not automatically self-propagate, but it can do so if enabled by its hidden controllers.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.