Experts links U.S. and Israel to sophisticated Flame virus

A U.S. cyber security expert says it is pretty likely the United States and Israel are behind a sophisticated computer virus that appears to have been used to gather intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program.

Tofino Security’s chief technology officer, Eric Byres, said there are only a few countries in the world with the resources to develop something as advanced as the so-called Flame virus.

The Washington Post newspaper reports Israeli and U.S. security agencies used Flame to collect information about Iran’s preparation for a cyber attack aimed at slowing its nuclear program.

Byres says the virus can be used in a variety of ways.

“The primary focus of Flame as it is currently configured appears to be stealing or collecting intelligence, and that can be everything from what we call autoCAD drawings about factories, to emails, to even things like voice conversations or video of what is happening in the office around the computer that is infected,” said Byres.

An Iranian state-run media report says Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqupour has lodged complaints with unspecified international organizations about alleged state cyber-terrorism. The report said Iranian officials blame detected computer viruses, including Flame, on Israel and certain Western countries.

Earlier this month, The New York Times said U.S. President Barack Obama authorized cyber attacks on Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear-enrichment facility. The report said the so-called Stuxnet computer virus was used to hamper operations at the site.

Byres says analysis reports indicate the Flame virus may be more targeted than Stuxnet.

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