WASHINGTON (JWN and agencies)—The Flame computer virus that is part of a cyberwar campaign against Iran’s nuclear program was jointly developed by the United States and Israel, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Flame has been called the most complex computer spying program ever discovered.
The report, which quoted anonymous Western officials, said Flame was designed to collect data that would help cripple Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons. Its development reportedly involved the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Israel Defense Forces.
The virus enabled the mapping of Iran’s computer networks and the monitoring of the computers of Iranian officials, the newspaper said.
Thefirst computer super virus employed by the West against Iran’s nuclear program was Stuxnet, which disrupted the functioning of centrifuges used by Iran to enrich uranium. Discovered in 2010, it was also attributed to a joint effort by Israel and the US.
Reuters reported that both serving and former US and Western national security officials have confirmed that at least the United States played a role in creating the Flame virus.
Approval for its deployment was said to be relatively easier to obtain than for Stuxnet, since Flame collects data rather than sabotages systems. It thus reportedly required less strict legal and policy review for cyber warfare by the US government.
The CIA, NSA, Pentagon, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the report, as did Israeli officials.