A sophisticated form of malware known as Project Sauron went undetected for five years at a string of organisations, according to security researchers.The malware may have been designed by a state-sponsored group. It can disguise itself as benign files and does not operate in predictable ways, making it harder to detect. Experts from Kaspersky Lab and Symantec said it allows the attacker to spy on infected computers. In September last year, Kaspersky first detected the malware on an unspecified "government organisation" network. Since then, the firm claims to have found evidence of Project Sauron at more than 30 organisations in Russia, Iran and Rwanda. These were generally government, scientific, military, telecoms and financial organisations, according to Kaspersky.
Separately, Symantec said it had found the malware in other countries, including at an airline in China and an embassy in Belgium.Hidden Threat Project Sauron is able to disguise itself in a wide variety of ways - as files with names similar to those published by organisations like Microsoft, for example, and does not always use the same methods for sending data back to the attacker. "The attackers clearly understand that we as researchers are always looking for patterns," the company notes in its report. "Remove the patterns and the operation will be harder to discover."
The malware can steal files, log all keystrokes and open a "back door" allowing wide-ranging access to the compromised computer, according to symantec. Project Sauron did not share any code with other known examples of similarly powerful malware, said Kaspersky's director of threat research Costin Raiu.