A new cyber surveillance virus is said to have hit the Middle East.
Dubbed Gauss, it can reportedly spy on banking transactions and steal log-in information for social networking sites, email and instant messaging.
It has infected over 2,500 personal computers, mainly in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to computer security experts.
“Gauss has a lot in common with the already famous Flame virus,” said Vitaly Kamluk, a senior specialist at the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab which first spotted it.
“They have a common code base, similar methods of decryption of built-in lines, the same communication methods with the control centre. There is absolutely no doubt that the same people are behind this. And it’s well known that Flame was connected to Stuxnet, the notorious worm which infected Iran.”
The US and Israel have been accused of targeting Iran with the Flame virus and Stuxnet, to try to sabotage Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Kaspersky’s latest findings are likely to fuel a growing international debate over the development and use of cyber weapons and espionage tools.