A few months ago, a virus called ‘Flame’ was tearing apart security systems across the Middle East. Today, it looks like Flame has evolved into a new virus called Gauss. In fact, Gauss has been wreaking havoc across Middle Eastern computer systems for most of the last year, and it poses a serious threat to financial data.
The Gauss virus is similar to Flame, although not identical. PC security giant Kaspersky claims that the similarities between Flame and Gauss suggest that they came from the same source – Kaspersky says that they are based on virtually the same platform.
Since Flame was able to go undetected in the Middle East for over three years (!) before it was detected, the fact that there is another virus based on the same architecture does not bode well for those who want to keep their financial transactions private.
The Gauss virus injects victims’ computers with special malware applications that intercept all transmissions sent over the internet browser. This allows Gauss to collect information like passwords, cookies, and browser history, with the most obvious target being financial data and banking information.
Gauss also installs a special tracking folder on all USB sticks attached to the computer. So even if users try to transfer valuable data off the system, Gauss will follow.
Like Flame, the Gauss virus is currently concentrated in the Middle East. The epicenter appears to be in Lebanon, where banks have been trying to fight against the malware for the past ten months. However, computer users in Palestine and Israel have also reportedly experienced Gauss attacks. Several computers in the west, including the United States and Germany, have also been infected.
Since Gauss is so clearly linked to flame, PC security experts suspect that it could be another nation-state sponsored cyber-attack. Many people in the security industry claim that Flame was created by a joint task force of American and Israeli computer experts. Why? Both Israel and the United States want to prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology. Flame (and other similar viruses like Stuxnet) overwhelmingly targeted computers in the Middle East, many of which were directly connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
As of now, nobody knows exactly who created the Gauss virus. However, if the United States, Israel, or another nation-state didn’t create it, then that means the Flame virus architecture has been leaked to third-parties, which is a very bad thing for computer users.
The Gauss virus is incredibly complex. It features nearly a million lines of code – much like Flame. But there is good news: it’s not as sophisticated as you might think. Gauss, like Flame, is primitive enough to be spotted by most of today’s antivirus software as soon as they update their databases.
Until that update is released (which should be very soon), you can protect your computer with PC Cleaner Pro, which is the world’s leading computer maintenance software program. It’s free to scan, although users can pay $39.95 to access the program for life. It’s also very easy to use – making it popular with tech geeks and computer newbs alike.
Flame was discovered a few months ago, despite it being in existence for over three years. This week, Gauss was discovered, although it has been in existence for over a year. The obvious question that many computer security experts are asking is: how many more are out there? If two viruses have been able to fool the world’s best PC security consultants thus far, then there is certainly a chance that there are more to be found.