(Newsroom America) -- The United States and Israel are responsible for the creation of a sophisticated computer virus aimed at collecting crucial information about Iran's nuclear weapons development, in preparation for a cyber-sabotage attack designed to impede the Islamic republic's progress.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the virus, called Flame, was a massive and sophisticated piece of malware designed to secretly map Iran's computer networks while monitoring the computers of Iranian officials, then send back a steady stream of intelligence used to sustain an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign, according to anonymous U.S. officials who spoke to the paper.
The effort involved the National Security Agency (NSA), which is based at Ft. Meade, Md., just northwest of Washington, D.C., the CIA and the Israeli military. It "has included the use of destructive software such as the so-called Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment," the Post said.
Emerging details about the Flame virus are tied to what appears to be the first known sustained cyber-sabotage operation aimed at a U.S. adversary. Included in the campaign was the use of the destructive Stuxnet malware, designed to cause malfunctions in Iran's nuclear enrichment gear, said the paper.
"This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action," one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today, told the Post. "Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this."
Spokesmen for all relevant U.S. and Israeli agencies, including the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment, said the Post.
News of the Flame virus broke last month as Iran detected a series of cyberattacks on its oil industry. "The disruption was directed by Israel in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its U.S. partners off guard, according to several U.S. and Western officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity," said the paper.
After news of the Flame and Stuxnet viruses broke, some cyber security analysts in the U.S. say they are concerned the cyber-sabotage operations by the U.S. and Israel will invite retaliation by adversaries who will target computer infrastructure and public works systems in both countries.
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