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Russia computer experts who detected Flame malware issue warning

MOSCOW — Computer virus experts at Kaspersky Lab, acting with the blessing of the United Nations, were searching for a villain dubbed the Wiper when they came across a much more menacing suspect requiring a new moniker: Flame.

The malicious program left experts all but certain that a government sponsor intent on cyber warfare and intelligence gathering was behind some suspicious activity, in part because of the likely cost of such a sophisticated endeavor.

"We entered a dark room in search of something and came out with something else in our hands, something different, something huge and sinister," Vitaly Kamlyuk, a senior antivirus expert at Kaspersky Lab, said in an interview Wednesday.

Kamlyuk said Flame can copy and steal data and audio files, turn on a computer microphone and record all the sounds in its vicinity, take screen shots, read documents and emails, and capture passwords and logins.

The program can communicate with other computers in its radius via the infected computer's Bluetooth capability and locate their whereabouts even without an Internet connection, he said.

"We haven't figured out yet whether it can carry out some destructive actions but we can say with confidence that it is a powerful universal set of tools for cyber espionage," Kamlyuk said.

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