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Is ‘MiniFlame’ The Latest Masterpiece Of US Intelligence?

It is a well-known fact the government agencies resort to desperate tactics when it comes to the matter of national security. There have been numerous examples of the agencies making use of cleverly designed malicious software to gain valuable information that might help them ensure the safety of the citizens. Flame, Gauss, Stuxnet, Duqu, etc. are some of the prominent examples and the latest addition to that list seems to be ‘MiniFlame’. This tool has been custom designed to help its makers indulge in espionage at a level that has never been seen before and was unearthed recently by a team of online security researchers working for the leading online security firm, Kaspersky.Latest Master Piece Of US Intelligence

Fancy Command Format

Imagine a situation where you are scooping the internet on a suspicion that a potentially dangerous software, approved by the government and designed by a government sponsored team, is on the World Wide Web. You come across an application that has names like Charles, Fiona, Elvis, Eve, Sam, Sonia, Alex, Tiffany, Barbara, Drake, etc. Your immediate conclusion is to categorize that software under something that has been designed by some junkies who are crazy about music and singers.

But that is not the case here. In this particular situation, these are the commands that are used by the much touted ‘MiniFlame’ software. Each command has a specific operation and Russian based online security organization, Kaspersky, claims to have decoded most of the commands. They also claimed that they have a rather comprehensive understanding of the malicious tool and its analogy is pretty similar to the malicious tools that the government has released in the past.

Highly Targeted Attack Tool

Kaspersky researchers have been posting on their official blog anonymously and the blog is proving to be a rather valuable source of information. One researcher compared this tool to the spy operations that the US Intelligence Agency conducted a few years ago with the much hyped malicious tools, Gauss and Flame. However, the researcher emphasized that if Gauss and Flame were tools for spying and espionage, MiniFlame is something that is highly targeted and what the online security community terms as a ‘high precision, surgical attack tool’. It targets specific areas of the computer and very efficiently collects and transmits the data that it is designed to do. This tool is virtually a ghost on your computer and cannot be detected unless you specifically look for it.

Based On Flame

The blog posting also highlighted the fact that although MiniFlame looks to be an independent module that is capable of functioning on its own, the methodology that it employs is largely based on Flame, a malicious tool that was discovered again by Kaspersky in May, 2012. While MiniFlame is a very precise tool with no orphaned code lines and an extremely narrow objective, Flame is a very elaborate piece of software. This tool gets installed on your computer as a Windows security update, a facade that is very impressive. Once installed, your computer is added to a network of computers that are specifically meant for spying operations. Your data will not be compromised in any way unless your computer is one of the targets. This is one of the reasons why this tool is virtually undetectable.

No Confirmation That US Government Is Behind These Tools

While the Russia based Kaspersky claims that this is the work of US Intelligence, there is no substantial proof that implicated US authorities in this mess. While the general internet user community is assuming that they are safe if they stop cookies/tracking online, there are tools with functionality that are beyond their comprehension. While there is nothing you can do about this, you can only hope that you are not a victim of what the authorities glorify as ‘sacrifice needed in order to secure the nation’. 

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