Kaspersky Lab today announced the discovery of miniFlame, a small and highly flexible malicious program designed to steal data and control infected systems during targeted cyber espionage operations.
miniFlame, also known as SPE, was found by Kaspersky Lab?s experts in July 2012, and was originally identified as a Flame module. However, in September 2012, Kaspersky Lab's research team conducted an analysis of Flame's command & control servers (C&C) and from the analysis found that the miniFlame module was actually an interoperable tool that could be used as an independent malicious program, or concurrently as plug-in for both the Flame and Gauss malware.
Kaspersky analysis of miniFlame showed there were several versions created between 2010 and 2011, with some variants still being active in the wild. The analysis also revealed new evidence of the cooperation between the creators of Flame and Gauss, as both malicious programs can use miniFlame as a "plug-in" for their operations.
According to Kaspersky, miniFlame is based on the same architectural platform as Flame. It can function as its own independent cyber espionage program or as a component inside both Flame and Gauss. The cyber espionage tool operates as a backdoor designed for data theft and direct access to infected systems.
To date, Kaspersky Lab has identified six of these variants, covering two major generations: 4.x and 5.x.
According to Kaspersky Lab's data, the number of infections is between 10-20 machines. The total number of infections worldwide is estimated at 50-60.
The original infection vector of miniFlame is yet to be determined.
"Given the confirmed relationship between miniFlame, Flame, and Gauss, miniFlame may be installed on machines already infected by Flame or Gauss," Kaspersky said. "Once installed, miniFlame operates as a backdoor and enables the malware operators to obtain any file from an infected machine."
Additional info-stealing capabilities include making screenshots of an infected computer while it's running a specific program or application in such as a web browser, Microsoft Office program, Adobe Reader, instant messenger service, or an FTP client.
miniFlame uploads the stolen data by connecting to its C&C server. Separately, at the request from miniFlame's C&C operator, an additional data-stealing module can be sent to an infected system, which infects USB drives and uses them to store data that's collected from infected machines without an internet connection.