Internet security experts have identified yet another state-sponsored cyber attack. The new attack Gauss, which has parallels to the dreaded Flame attack early this year, has infected several banks, particularly in Lebanon, in the West Asia.

The prime objective of this attack is to steal financial information from the infected computer, Vitaly Kamluk, Chief Malware Expert at the Moscow-based Kaspersky, has said.

The attack infects USB-drives, collects user domain information and steals password and browser cookies.

Though originated in June 2011, the virus tools have detected this attack only in May this year. He strongly suspected that this Gauss was created by the same people who created Flame. “It is highly modular and supports new functions which can be deployed remotely by the operators in the form of plugins. Gauss seems to be another nation state-sponsored cyber-attack. It was developed by the same creators of Flame, who also worked with the developers of Stuxnet in their early stages,” he said.

“This is the first time that we’ve seen a direct link between state-sponsored cyber espionage tools and stealing internet banking credentials. It has infected thousands of machines without any known worm functionality,” he said.

With all of the previous cyber-attacks, Gauss proves that West Asia is turning into an epicentre for complex global cyber-attacks.

This is the third discovery of a nation-state sponsored cyber-attack within 12 months, but efforts toward stronger countermeasures, such as intergovernmental agreements and international treaties, have remained stagnant.

Majority of the victim computers are Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows Vistas. Kaspersky noticed 261 attacks in Palestine, 1,660 in Lebanon and 483 in Israel.

kurmanath.kanchi@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 10, 2012)
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