The Flame Virus shares code with another virus, Stuxnet, that damaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2010. These are two of the most destructive computer viruses ever created, tailor-made for cyber-espionage and capable of wreaking havoc on government systems.
Both Flame and Stuxnet are believed to have been used by the U.S. government to wage online warfare against hostile regimes.
Now The Washington Post has claimed, citing anonymous Western officials, that the United States and Israel jointly developed the Flame computer virus that collected intelligence to help slow Iran’s nuclear program.
The so-called Flame malware aimed to map Iran’s computer networks and monitor computers of Iranian officials, the newspaper said.
Collaboration: Experts say they have found evidence that the two programmes shared the same source code
Collaboration: Sources say the two nations worked together to develop Flame, with the purpose of damaging Iran’s nuclear program
It was designed to provide intelligence to help in a cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, the Post said.
The cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program has included the use of another computer virus called Stuxnet that caused malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment, the newspaper said.
Current and former U.S. and Western national security officials confirmed to Reuters that the United States played a role in creating the Flame virus.
Since Flame was an intelligence ‘collection’ virus rather than a cyberwarfare program to sabotage computer systems, it required less-stringent U.S. legal and policy review than any U.S. involvement in offensive cyberwarfare efforts, experts told Reuters.
The CIA, NSA, Pentagon, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
Flame is the most complex computer spying program ever discovered.
Two leading computer security firms – Kaspersky Lab and Symantec Corp – have linked some of the software code in the Flame virus to the Stuxnet computer virus, which was widely believed to have been used by the United States and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.