BOSTON - A mysterious computer virus believed to be from Russia infected hundreds of thousands of PCs around the globe after attacking the US military's Central Command in an unprecedented breach uncovered in 2008, according to the details of new research released on Wednesday.
Costin Raiu, director of research at Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, told Reuters on Wednesday that at least 400,000 computers across Russia and Europe were infected with the virus, dubbed Agent.BTZ, based on the number of infections detected by his firm's anti-virus software.
He said he believes the operators of Agent.BTZ have since stopped communicating with the virus after infections peaked around 2011.
Not much data has been previously released on the virus, so the research from Kaspersky Lab may shed new light on how sophisticated cyber espionage operations are conducted.
Still, Raiu said Kaspersky published its analysis on the attacks because it believes they are likely linked to a sophisticated ongoing operation known as Turla, which is targeting hundreds of government computers across Europe and the United States.
The largest number of infections by Agent.BTZ was in the Russian Federation, followed by Spain and Italy, Raiu said. Other victims were found in Kazakhstan, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.
Details on the attack on the US Central Command, which in 2008 was in charge of the conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, have been deemed as classified by the Pentagon, so very little has been reported to date.