U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts

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As if this is news...

If Iran is running any Windoze boxes at all, they should be using win-98
-> probably incompatible with flame.

After all, the NSA practically wrote Vista - giving them all sorts of
back doors.  I wouldn't trust XP / Vista / 7 in this regard.


U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear
efforts, officials say


The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer
virus nicknamed Flame that collected intelligence in preparation for
cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear
weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.

The massive piece of malware secretly mapped and monitored Iran’s
computer networks, sending back a steady stream of intelligence to
prepare for a cyberwarfare campaign, according to the officials.

The effort, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s
military, has included the use of destructive software such as the
Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear-enrichment

The emerging details about Flame provide new clues to what is thought to
be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary
of the United States.

“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert
action,” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who
added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that
continues today. “Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way
further down the road than this.”

Flame came to light last month after Iran detected a series of
cyberattacks on its oil industry. The disruption was directed by Israel
in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its American partners
off guard, according to several U.S. and Western officials, speaking on
the condition of anonymity.

There has been speculation that the United States had a role in
developing Flame, but the collaboration on the virus between Washington
and Israel has not been previously confirmed. Commercial security
researchers last week reported that Flame contained some of the same
code as Stuxnet. Experts described the overlap as DNA-like evidence that
the two sets of malware were parallel projects run by the same entity.

Spokesmen for the CIA, the NSA and the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence, as well as the Israeli Embassy in Washington,
declined to comment.

The virus is among the most sophisticated and subversive pieces of
malware to be exposed to date. Experts said the program was designed to
replicate across even highly secure networks, then control everyday
computer functions to send secrets back to its creators. The code could
activate computer microphones and cameras, log keyboard strokes, take
screen shots, extract geolocation data from images, and send and receive
commands and data through Bluetooth wireless technology.

Flame was designed to do all this while masquerading as a routine
Microsoft software update; it evaded detection for several years by
using a sophisticated program to crack an encryption algorithm.

“This is not something that most security researchers have the skills or
resources to do,” said Tom Parker, chief technology officer for FusionX,
a security firm that specializes in simulating state-sponsored
cyberattacks. He said he does not know who was behind the virus. “You’d
expect that of only the most advanced cryptomathematicians, such as
those working at NSA.”

Conventional plus cyber

Flame was developed at least five years ago as part of a classified
effort code-named Olympic Games, according to officials familiar with
U.S. cyber-operations and experts who have scrutinized its code. The
U.S.-Israeli collaboration was intended to slow Iran’s nuclear program,
reduce the pressure for a conventional military attack and extend the
timetable for diplomacy and sanctions.

The cyberattacks augmented conventional sabotage efforts by both
countries, including inserting flawed centrifuge parts and other
components into Iran’s nuclear supply chain.

The best-known cyberweapon let loose on Iran was Stuxnet, a name coined
by researchers in the antivirus industry who discovered it two years
ago. It infected a specific type of industrial controller at Iran’s
uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz, causing almost 1,000 centrifuges to
spin out of control. The damage occurred gradually, over months, and
Iranian officials initially thought it was the result of incompetence.

The scale of the espionage and sabotage effort “is proportionate to the
problem that’s trying to be resolved,” the former intelligence official
said, referring to the Iranian nuclear program. Although Stuxnet and
Flame infections can be countered, “it doesn’t mean that other tools
aren’t in play or performing effectively,” he said.

To develop these tools, the United States relies on two of its elite spy
agencies. The NSA, known mainly for its electronic eavesdropping and
code-breaking capabilities, has extensive expertise in developing
malicious code that can be aimed at U.S. adversaries, including Iran.
The CIA lacks the NSA’s sophistication in building malware but is deeply
involved in the cyber-campaign.

The CIA’s Information Operations Center is second only to the agency’s
Counterterrorism Center in size. The IOC, as it is known, performs an
array of espionage functions, including extracting data from laptops
seized in counterterrorism raids. But the center specializes in computer
penetrations that require closer contact with the target, such as using
spies or unwitting contractors to spread a contagion via a thumb drive.

Both agencies analyze the intelligence obtained through malware such as
Flame and have continued to develop new weapons even as recent attacks
have been exposed.

Flame’s discovery shows the importance of mapping networks and
collecting intelligence on targets as the prelude to an attack,
especially in closed computer networks. Officials say gaining and
keeping access to a network is 99 percent of the challenge.

“It is far more difficult to penetrate a network, learn about it, reside
on it forever and extract information from it without being detected
than it is to go in and stomp around inside the network causing damage,”
said Michael V. Hayden, a former NSA director and CIA director who left
office in 2009. He declined to discuss any operations he was involved
with during his time in government.

Years in the making

The effort to delay Iran’s nuclear program using cyber-techniques began
in the mid-2000s, during President George W. Bush’s second term. At that
point it consisted mainly of gathering intelligence to identify
potential targets and create tools to disrupt them. In 2008, the program
went operational and shifted from military to CIA control, former
officials said.

Despite their collaboration on developing the malicious code, the United
States and Israel have not always coordinated their attacks. Israel’s
April assaults on Iran’s Oil Ministry and oil-export facilities caused
only minor disruptions. The episode led Iran to investigate and
ultimately discover Flame.

“The virus penetrated some fields — one of them was the oil sector,”
Gholam Reza Jalali, an Iranian military cyber-official, told Iranian
state radio in May. “Fortunately, we detected and controlled this single

Some U.S. intelligence officials were dismayed that Israel’s unilateral
incursion led to the discovery of the virus, prompting countermeasures.

The disruptions led Iran to ask a Russian security firm and a Hungarian
cyber-lab for help, according to U.S. and international officials
familiar with the incident.

Last week, researchers with Kaspersky Lab, the Russian security firm,
reported their conclusion that Flame — a name they came up with — was
created by the same group or groups that built Stuxnet. Kaspersky
declined to comment on whether it was approached by Iran.

“We are now 100 percent sure that the Stuxnet and Flame groups worked
together,” said Roel Schouwenberg, a Boston-based senior researcher with
Kaspersky Lab.

The firm also determined that the Flame malware predates Stuxnet. “It
looks like the Flame platform was used as a kick-starter of sorts to get
the Stuxnet project going,” Schouwenberg said.

Re: U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts

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I believe this a couple of the classified leaks that the AG Holder has
assigned (2) un-special US attorneys to investigate.   Hmmmm.....
I wonder if something like Flame could also be used to make money in oil
speculation.  I wonder if all popular OS software is infected with this sort
of thing by design, anyway.

Steal a little and go to prison, steal a lot and become King.

Re: U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts

telsar unnecessarily full-quoted:

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Where did you read that?

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If it were my choice, I'd use flame to give me a back-door into
computers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and any computers at
the Federal Reserve likely to contain advance copies of FOMC and Ben
Bernanke's prepared statements.  With advance knowledge of
(un)employment data and monentary policy (QE) I could make a killing on
the ES (S&P futures) and forex markets.

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It is well known that the NSA had a lot of input / control into how
Vista was designed.  This no doubt has and will be extended into all new
versions of Windoze.  XP-SP3 probably has similar back-doors.

Re: U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts

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On Fox News.

Better assumed to be a fool(0) than to spake and remove doubt.

Re: U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts

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The NSA had influence all the way back to NT v3.51

Multi-AV Scanning Tool - http://multi-av.thespykiller.co.uk

Re: U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts

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Why ?

Multi-AV Scanning Tool - http://multi-av.thespykiller.co.uk

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