A new highly destructive computer virus has been found which has the rather nasty habit of stealing bank account data.

Apparently state-sponsored (although it's anyone's guess which state is responsible at this point), the Guass virus is targeting Middle East banks, slurping out bank account passwords and key-logging data.

Kaspersky has highlighted the dangers of the virus on its website, noting: "After looking at Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, we can say with a high degree of certainty that Gauss comes from the same 'factory' or 'factories'.

"All these attack toolkits represent the high end of nation-state-sponsored cyber-espionage and cyberwar operations."

Going viral

The arrival of Gauss will be a worry for many – State-sponsored viruses, like Flame, are usually used for government intelligence but given Gauss seems to be stealing passwords there is now the added problem of data theft.

Speaking about the arrival of the virus, James Todd, technical lead for Europe at FireEye, said: "While the discovery of the Flame virus may have shocked security experts worldwide, it seems that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

"With suggestions that Gauss could in fact be linked to the laboratories that created Flame, Stuxnet and Duqu, it appears that the state-sponsored cyber threat might be more dynamic, fast-moving and incestuous than previously thought.

"Many consider credential stealing malware a social problem and pretty harmless compared to targeted attacks. Gauss destroys that myth.

"Though it seems that this virus is currently intended for the theft of bank details, social networking information and other web passwords, we cannot underestimate the seriousness of this discovery and its potential to morph into a virus capable of attacking control systems and other critical infrastructure, as has been suggested."

Via AFP