Huge Cyber Attack Targets Iran, Middle East
Dubbed Flame, the virus may have struck Iran's oil facilities
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2012 7:32 PM CDT
An oil refinery and petrochemical complex is seen in the port of Mahshahr, Iran, Thursday, May 17, 2007.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

(Newser) – A surprisingly complex computer virus has struck Iran's oil facilities and spread across the Middle East, CNET reports. Dubbed Flame by analysts, the malware appears state-sponsored and designed to plunder data from personal computers and major networks alike, according to Russian Internet security giant Kaspersky Labs. "The complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious program exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date," said the firm.

Flame is probably behind a disruption in Iran's oil industry last month, the Guardian reports. Analysts haven't identified the designer of the virus, but assume a government with a formidable budget and a large team worked on it for months—so fingers will point to the US and Israel, the Guardian notes. Whoever made it, experts say Flame trumps Stuxnet, which hit Iran's nuclear facilities two years ago.