Report: US And Israel Behind Flame

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

US and Israel were behind Flame, according to a report, just as many suspected

All but confirming the suspicions of the security community, Western officials have claimed the Flame virus was created by the US and Israel.

When Kaspersky found a link between Stuxnet and Flame this month, many assumed the US and Israel had joined forces to create Flame, a cyber espionage tool which was largely targeting Iranian systems. Both nations were behind Stuxnet.

Officials with knowledge of the Flame effort told the Washington Post that the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military were all involved in the operation of the malware.

“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” one former high-ranking US intelligence official said. “Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”

Flame’s not lame

Flame was able to take information from a variety of sources, including cameras, microphones and even Bluetooth. It has been described as one of the most complex pieces of malware ever created, and the virus’ operators used fake certificates to dupe users into downloading malicious software, which then helped the worm propagate.

Recently, Kaspersky found some replicated code across Flame and Stuxnet. Researchers found a module from the early 2009 version of Stuxnet – a module known as “Resource 207” – that turned out to be a Flame plugin. That module was used to spread the infection over USB drives via autorun.inf, a technique that was identical in the two malware.

The officials claimed that Flame and Stuxnet were part of a wider strategy that is still going on today. That strategy could be the Olympic Games initiative, which was started in the Bush era but continued and strengthened under Barack Obama, according to a book published earlier this month.

An excerpt from that book, published in the New York Times,claimed the Olympic Games push was designed to disrupt Iranian nuclear capabilities, which is what Stuxnet achieved. President Obama had ordered sustained cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities as part of the strategy.

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