Queen's University

Flame virus shut down Iranian oil industry: Queen's University expert

2012-08-21

Queen’s University computer security expert David Skillicorn is available to talk about Flame computer virus, which was responsible for an attack on Iran’s oil industry last month.

A senior Iranian military official said today the virus has unprecedented data-snatching capabilities and can eavesdrop on computer users. On Tuesday, Israel's vice-prime minister Moshe Yaalon suggested that Israel could be behind the Flame attack.

“When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier, a dozen others also did within a year. The impact of the Flame attack system on Canada is the same sort of thing: now that someone has shown that a long list of theoretical possibilities can be made to work in practice, others will copy (or steal) the Flame code to create their own versions. Many of these will be criminals who will be able to collect unprecedented amounts of data from computers, as well as cause them to do things their owners don't want them to do, including deleting all of their data. Computers that control industrial systems (power grids, water purification) are a particular problem because they can cause things to happen in the real world. Flame is such a big step up in functionality that, at the moment, there are only weak defences against it. After all, it has been out there for several years, perhaps as long as five, before it was even noticed,” says Dr. Skillicorn, an expert on computer hacking and viruses.

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officers Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or michael.onesi@queensu.ca or Anne Craig at 613-533-2877 or Anne.Craig@queensu.ca at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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