Code from Flame virus
The Flame virus, which has infected thousands of computers mostly in the Middle East, is being described as the most pernicious and complex software ever developed. The existence of the malware was recently made public by Kaspersky Lab, which discovered the malicious program while investigating infected computers for the United Nations. The virus is believed to have been attacking computers for at least two years.
What is the origin of the Flame malware? Well, according to The Christian Science Monitor, experts say only four nations have the technical knowledge to build such a complicated program. They are the United States, Russia, and China and, as you might have guessed, Israel.
Like the Stuxnet and Duqu malware, which many believe to have originated in Israel, Flame exploits vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system. Also, the cyber-attack is mostly aimed at Iran; the second most targeted victim is the Palestinian Authority. Are those enough clues?
If you are not yet convinced yet that Israel is the culprit, this is what Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in a radio interview on Tuesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.
In comments that could be construed as suggesting that Israel is behind the “Flame” virus, the latest piece of malicious software to attack Iranian computers, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday said that “whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat would be likely to take different steps, including these, in order to hurt them.”
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, Ya’alon further hinted that Jerusalem was behind the cyber attack, saying “Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. These achievements of ours open up all kinds of possibilities for us.”
The Jerusalem Post headline stated that Ya’alon “hinted” that the software is Israeli. The Hebrew language website of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv quoted the same radio interview. Its headline more definitively said Ya’alon “confirmed” that Flame was Israeli.
Flame is a virus that steals and deletes data, makes copies of the computer screens and uses the internal microphone to record conversations. Experts say it could take years to figure out all of its functions. Unlike many malware programs, Flame is sent to specifically targeted computers and networks. It has been implicated in causing the shutdown of Iranian oil terminals in April.
Iran admits that the Flame malware has caused damage to its computers, but claims to have developed security software which can disable it.
It is important to note that the United States has an extremely close military and security relationship with Israel, especially in regard to their shared hostility toward Tehran. There has been much speculation that the U.S. participated in the creation of the Stuxnet virus, which also mainly targeted Iran. Thus American involvement in the making and distribution of the Flame virus cannot be ruled out.
Also of note, the staid International Herald Tribune (IHT) blog, which now bills itself as “The Global Edition of the New York Times,” quoted Richard Silverstein’s outspoken blog, Tikun Olam, saying that the virus was Israeli. The IHT mischaracterizes Richard’s blog as a liberal Israeli website.
“The country that brought us Iranian nuclear assassinations, explosions at Iran missile bases, and Stuxnet, is at it again,” wrote Richard Silverstein on Israel’s liberal Tikun Olam Web site under the headline: “Israel’s new contribution to Middle East cyberwar.”
“The goal is apparently to infiltrate the computers of individuals in Iran, Israel, Palestine and elsewhere who are engaged in activities that interest Israel’s secret police, including military intelligence,” Mr. Silverstein said, suggesting Israeli intelligence might even be using the worm to spy on its own citizens.
Update: NBC News is reporting the possibility that the Flame virus was made in the USA.