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Iran downplays Narilam malware but vendors clash on Flame connection

27 Nov 2012
malware virus security threat

Iran has dimissed security concerns around a new malware strain dubbed Narilam that has been uncovered as security vendors Kaspersky Labs and Symantec clash over its connections to similar threats such as Flame, Stuxnet, Gauss and Duqu.

Symantec warned that Narilam worm had been targeting Iranian systems. The Narilam malware is a worm that spreads by copying itself to drives and shared folders on a compromised computer.

The worm is reportedly designed to delete information within a number of select databases on infected machines. Symantec warned that because it appeared to have been targeted at Iranian systems it had the potential to cause chaos.

"We have seen malware such as Stuxnet designed to tamper with industrial automation systems and other destructive examples such as Disstrack and Flamer, which can both wiped out data and files from hard disks. All of these threats can badly disrupt the activities of those affected," read Symantec's blog post.

"Following along that theme, we recently came across an interesting threat that has another method of causing chaos, this time, by targeting and modifying corporate databases. We detect this threat as W32.Narilam."

However, Kaspersky Labs has since questioned the reference to Flame-level threats, claiming that Narilam was created using a completely different coding language to the hyper-sophisticated malwares.

"We've analysed the sample and found no obvious connection with these. Duqu, Stuxnet, Flame and Gauss have all been compiled with versions of Microsoft Visual C, while Narilam was built with Borland C++ Builder 6 (and not Delphi, as other articles seem to suggest), a completely different programming tool," wrote a Kaspersky researcher.

Iran's cyber emergency team, the Maher Center, has since backed Kaspersky's assessment, issuing a statement declaring Narilam poses no significant threat.

"The malware called Narilam was an old malware, previously detected and reported online in 2010 by some other names. This malware has no sign of a major threat, nor a sophisticated piece of computer malware," the Maher Center said in a statement.

"This is not a threat for general users and need no special care. Only the customers of accounting software could make backup of their database and scan their system by updated antivirus product."

Narilam is one of many examples of malware targeting Iranian systems detected this year.

Chief among them is the advanced cyber espionage tool Flame. Flame was uncovered targeting Iranian networks earlier in the year and is believed to have been created by a hostile nation state.

Symantec cited the appearance of threats like Flame as proof that the number of state-sponsored threats will increase in 2013 in its threat predictions report earlier in November.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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