Flame computer bug may have been released by Israel, minister says


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A computer virus attacking computers in Iran and the West Bank may have been created with Israeli involvement, a government minister hinted.

Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s vice prime minister, said in an interview Tuesday on Israel Radio that "Anyone who sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat would be likely to take various steps, including these, to harm it.

"Israel was blessed as being a country rich with high-tech," he said. "These tools that we take pride in open up all kinds of opportunities for us."

The discovery of the Flame virus, which is being called "the most sophisticated virus of all times," was announced Monday by the Kaspersky Lab in Russia. It was discovered in high concentrations in Iranian computers and also in the West Bank, Syria and Sudan.

The virus was created to collect data, and may have lain dormant for several years. It is controlled by a remote computer that can turn the virus on and off at will.

The Flame reportedly shares some characteristics with the Stuxnet virus, which damaged Iranian nuclear centrifuges before it was discovered in 2010. Experts believe that it took a sophisticated programming team and state resources to create the program.  

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