WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Flame computer virus, which was instrumental in sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, reportedly was jointly developed by the United States and Israel.
The virus was designed by both countries to collect intelligence in preparation for cyber attacks that would potentially slow Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to a report by the Washington Post, citing unnamed Western officials with knowledge of the effort. Flame hid in computer operating systems as a routine Microsoft software update; reportedly it has been infiltrating computer systems for the last five years.
The effort involved the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, according to the newspaper. None of the agencies agreed to be interviewed for the article.
Flame was secretly mapping Iran’s computer networks and monitoring computers of Iranian officials in order to send back intelligence that would be used to sabotage Iran’s nuclear technology systems.
It came into the public eye last month after Iran realized its oil industry was under cyber attack. The Post reported that the attack on Iran’s oil industry was a unilateral operation on Israel’s part that caught the U.S. off guard.
Cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear program were started under the George W. Bush administration, but efforts have increased under the Obama administration as revealed by New York Times reporter David Sanger.
The revelation of the covert programs has sparked a furor among Congress members, who have called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leaks.