Surprise, surprise. The US and Israel together devised the malevolent Flame computer virus to snarl Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weaponry, reports the Washington Post. The massive malware has been monitoring Iran's computer networks and sending back a stream of intelligence to aid the Stuxnet-linked malfunctions in Iran's nuclear-enrichment equipment, according to sources. Flame was developed at least five years ago under the code name "Olympic Games." The operation involves the CIA, the National Security Agency and Israel's military. “This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” a former high-ranking US intelligence official told the Post, adding that the assault is continuing. News that Flame existed emerged last month when Iran discovered the virus wreaking havoc with its oil industry.
Observers had speculated that the US may have been involved in developing Flame, but sources are confirming that for the first time, as well as revealing the unified effort by the US and Israel. Flame is equipped to spy on computer networks, and activate mikes and cameras, log keyboard strokes, take screen shots and glean geographic data from images. It can also receive—and send—computer commands. “This is not something that most security researchers have the skills or resources to do,” said a spokesman for a firm that simulates state-sponsored cyber attacks. “You’d expect that of only the most advanced crypto-mathematicians, such as those working at NSA.”