Computers the world over appear to be at risk of being hacked and spied upon by Unites States of America, National Security Agency (NSA) in a report made by Kaspersky Lab the world's largest, privately held IT security company.
Kaspersky Lab headquartered in Moscow, Russia, with its holding company registered in the United Kingdom has found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.
The Dailymail reports that the targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists.
The IT security company declined to publicly name the country, or organization behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet. Stuxnet is a computer worm that was discovered in June 2010.
According to a Wired Magazine report "The cyberweapon that came to be known as Stuxnet was created and built by the NSA in partnership with the CIA and Israeli intelligence in the mid-2000s. The first known piece of malware designed to destroy physical equipment, Stuxnet was aimed at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz".
According to Kaspersky, the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.
Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.
"The hardware will be able to infect the computer over and over," lead Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu said in an interview.