Report: Flame part of US-Israeli cyberattack campaign against Iran

Unnamed Western officials confirmed that Flame was developed by US and Israeli governments, the Washington Post reported

The highly sophisticated Flame malware was jointly developed by the U.S. and Israeli governments in preparation for a cybersabotage campaign to disrupt Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment efforts, according to a media report.

Citing unnamed Western officials with knowledge of the operation, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Flame's goal was to collect intelligence about Iran's computer networks that would facilitate future cyberattacks.

On June 1, The New York Times reported that Stuxnet, a sophisticated piece of malware that is believed to have caused the destruction of up to 1,000 gas centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was created by the U.S. and Israel governments as part of a joint operation code-named Olympic Games.

The New York Times cited unnamed official sources who said that prior to deploying Stuxnet, cyberespionage software programs known as beacons were secretly inserted into computers made by German hardware manufacturer Siemens and an Iranian company.

The purpose of these beacons was to collect information about how computer from the Natanz facility interoperated with the uranium enrichment centrifuges, and send this data back for analysis.

On June 11, security researchers from Kaspersky Lab, one of the security companies that discovered and analyzed the Flame malware, announced that they found a link between Flame and Stuxnet in the form of shared computer code.

Based on this evidence of collaboration, they theorized that the two threats were created by two development teams funded by the same group of attackers. Flame was probably used for espionage and Stuxnet for sabotage, Roel Schouwenberg, a senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab's global research and analysis team, said at the time.

Flame was discovered back in May, following an investigation into a series of mysterious data loss incidents at Iran's Oil Ministry. Those attacks were carried out in April by the Israeli part of the operation without knowledge from the U.S. side, the Washington Post's sources said.

Security researchers from Kaspersky Lab believe that Flame was created in the first half of 2008. Stuxnet was discovered in June 2010, but the first variant of the malware is believed to date from June 2009.

In September 2011, a separate piece of cyberespionage malware called Duqu was discovered. Duqu's architecture and code are very similar to Stuxnet, leading security researchers to believe that the two threats were created on the same development platform.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?