The US government's National Security Agency has developed spyware that can hide deep within a person's hard drive according to Moscow-based security experts Kaspersky Lab and a number of former NSA employees.
Kaspersky revealed its findings on Monday saying that it had found hardware in more than 30 countries that had been infected with the virus. While far-reaching, the virus was most prevalent in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.
The virus gives the owner complete eavesdropping capabilities over the target computer including full access to any data on the harddrive.
Reuters reports that the virus appears to have been targeted at government and military installations, nuclear research companies, banks, telecommunications companies and more.
The Russian cyber security firm has declined from naming the country that it believes is behind the attack however notes that it shares numerous similarities to Stuxnet, an NSA cyber weapon that was used to target Iran's nuclear uranium enrichment facility.
Speaking to Reuters, a former NSA employee confirmed that the government agency not only had the technical capability to create such a virus but that it was actively using them.
One of the major concerns arising from the report is the way in which the virus embeds itself into the hard drive. Kaspersky found it to be hiding within the disc drive's own firmware which is launched every time the computer is turned on.
According to the report, access to this software is not public information meaning that the creators either hacked the firmware or somehow gained access to the code.