Data Focus Of Cyber Espionage

Advertisers and marketers flocking to adopt "big data" need to understand the potential havoc of cyber threats, as more companies rely on ad targeting to connect with consumers.

Security researchers identified malware that steals data from businesses, government offices and universities and targeted Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Israel, Lebanon and Syria in what some call international cyberwar and cyber espionage.

Several security firms have published data on the topic. Thousands of computers have been infected with the sophisticated virus Flame in the latest cyberstrike against the Islamic Republic, said cybersecurity experts and Iran's telecommunications ministry. Iran has been targeted with computer viruses such as Stuxnet, Duqu and Wiper three times since 2010.

The virus doesn't intend to cause physical damage, but rather collect huge amounts of sensitive data and transfer it to control servers. Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC analysts believe the Flame malware had been operating since August 2010. It can capture everything from audio files to Skype conversations, as well as take screenshots of activities on computers, and steal names, phone numbers and pull traffic information.

As the name suggests, malware is responsible for attacking and infecting additional machines. Kaspersky Security Network sees multiple versions of the malware with different sizes and content of code, considering the malware has been circulating for couple of years.

Kaspersky Security tells us the large size of the malware kept it from becoming discoverable earlier. In general, today’s malware is small and focused. It’s easier to hide a small file than a larger module. Collectively, Flame's modules account for more than 20-MB. Much of these are libraries designed to handle SSL traffic, SSH connections, sniffing, attack, interception of communications, and more.

It's important for advertising and marketing execs to realize this malware attack can easily happen to the online ad industry in the United States.

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