"Flame" Spy Virus May Be of U.S./Israeli Origin

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"Flame" Spy Virus May Be of U.S./Israeli Origin

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Government sources say the spy-virus is part of an anti-Iranian cyberwarfare attempt.

When the sneaky spy virus nicknamed "Flame" was first discovered by security experts at Kaspersky Labs, nobody seemed entirely sure which nation state was responsible for creating and distributing the malware. Suspicion fell immediately on the United States and Israel after researchers discovered a raft of similarities between Flame and Stuxnet, a different spy-virus known to be of American origin. Now, in a new twist, the finger of blame has been squarely pointed at the U.S. and Israel by anonymous "Western officials with knowledge of the effort."

Speaking to the Washington Post, these ghostly "officials" claim that Flame was designed and deployed as part of an attempt to slow down Iran's nuclear development program (as reported previously, Iranian security officials say they found a way to detect and neutralize Flame back in May). According to the officials, its primary function was to map and monitor Iranian computer systems in preparation for a "cyberwarfare campaign."

"This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action," said a "former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official" who apparently spoke to the Washington Post. "Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this," they added.

According to another of the anonymous officials, Flame is "proportionate to the problem that's trying to be resolved." Flame, which possessed the power to masquerade as a Windows Update packet and record Skype calls, is being slowly weakened as researchers dig around and learn its methods. However, according to the same apparent official, a drop in the effectiveness of Flame "doesn't mean that other tools aren't in play or performing effectively."

When asked about the allegations, neither the U.S. nor the Israeli administration responded.

The last time he spoke about the virus, Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab, said that "it will take us 10 years to fully understand [Flame]." With that in mind, it's hard not to wonder what other secrets are waiting to be dragged out from within the malware's complex innards. It wouldn't be a surprise to anyone, really, if the claims laid out by the Washington Post's sources turn out to be true; the history of animosity between Iran, the U.S. and Israel is well-documented, with quiet acts of warfare having cropped up amidst the nations' violent rhetoric over the years. While the rest of this "cyberwarfare campaign" remains hidden from view, expect to hear more about this topic as the world wakes up to the reality of electronic warfare.

Source: The Washington Post

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Zionist conspiricies? The US Government? Cyber Warfare? Oh boy here we go...

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Can't wait until my country rules the world.
...Or take the entire world down with it, Samson Style.

we're a bunch of cunts, aren't we? ;_;

....I doubt that these anonymous officials are actually "officials". If they WERE involved WHY ARE THEY ADMITTING IT? If you're caught with this kind of BS, you typically try to deflect the blame so you can continue to spy on people.

So yeah, I find that a little fishy.

Yeah it's probably from Israel, but these "Western officials with knowledge of the effort." is total bullshit.

Pandora's got a warehouse full of boxes, and the US and Israel are hopping and skipping about, opening them up, aren't they?

Dear US and Israeli Governments: Please do be careful not to expose so many security vulnerabilities and invent so many attack techniques that you do a better job of arming cybercriminals than disarming Iran.

I just love how every virus or hacking-related news post comes with that "Hackers" still. This is one of the least convincing depictions of hackers ever conceived in popular culture. The script gets points for name-dropping Unix and some bare-bones security measures and then-common tweaks, but that's it.

On the other end, I have to admit that watching government-mandated math wizards and code wranglers punch keyboards all day long wouldn't make for much of a rousing epic.

IamLEAM1983:
I just love how every virus or hacking-related news post comes with that "Hackers" still. This is one of the least convincing depictions of hackers ever conceived in popular culture. The script gets points for name-dropping Unix and some bare-bones security measures and then-common tweaks, but that's it.

On the other end, I have to admit that watching government-mandated math wizards and code wranglers punch keyboards all day long wouldn't make for much of a rousing epic.

HACK THE PLANET!!!

;)

Well, there goes the moral high ground about bitching about China's prodding of US sites.


McMullen:
Dear US and Israeli Governments: Please do be careful not to expose so many security vulnerabilities and invent so many attack techniques that you do a better job of arming cybercriminals than disarming Iran.

The hell of it, as someone said on Slashdot, is that national cybersecurity and international cyberwarfare are mutually exclusive goals. Since everyone uses the same small collection of operating systems and hardware platforms, a country that tracks down security holes can either:
1) Make everyone, including places like Iran, more secure by getting them fixed.
2) Hoard that info and use them as zero-days against other countries, risking someone else finding the hole in the meantime and using it against them or against civilians.

You can't do both. The US government is effectively stating that they put their offensive capabilities over the security of their people.

Mumorpuger:
HACK THE PLANET!!!

My rig's got a P6 chip and a custom BIOS. Whatchu gonna do, huh?!

Where's a "you don't say" meme when you need one?

Seriously though, the virus primarily targeting Iran might have been designed by the two countries that are the most outspoken against Iran? This is as much of a conspiracy as saying that maybe the one who sent the explosive present to the black spy might have been the white spy. If someone exchanges death threats with someone else on a regular basis, it's pretty obvious who was responsible for trying to kill the other one.

Okay, did I miss something? Why is everyone's posts center justified?

Wait, the US (and Israel) is probably behind this? What a complete and utter shocker that totally got me by surprise and wasn't in any way obvious before this announcement.

So.....

can we say that the US

*shades*

started the flame war?

Scars Unseen:
Okay, did I miss something? Why is everyone's posts center justified?

This is the new forum update.

lol America. "China is hacking us! They're evil! They're too sophisticated!"
Then they turn around and produce the two most advanced viruses in the world and the first cases of genuine cyber espionage software.

It's like hypocrisy doesn't exist in their vocabulary.

AC10:
lol America. "China is hacking us! They're evil! They're too sophisticated!"
Then they turn around and produce the two most advanced viruses in the world and the first cases of genuine cyber espionage software.

It's like hypocrisy doesn't exist in their vocabulary.

Presumably if I shot someone, the word "gun" would not be in my vocabulary?

AC10:
lol America. "China is hacking us! They're evil! They're too sophisticated!"
Then they turn around and produce the two most advanced viruses in the world and the first cases of genuine cyber espionage software.

It's like hypocrisy doesn't exist in their vocabulary.

*shrug* This is nothing new, and certainly not unique to the US of A. Countries have been slaughtering their neighbors in the name of home defense for ages, and there's always some predictable rhetoric to make your side seem like the right one. "Those [insert target nation here] bastards are an affront to god! They are absolute monsters, and none of your families will be safe until we've driven them from [our/their] land! Now let's go slaughter those heathens!"

Hell, if anything, this is a refreshingly civilized way of being ignorant, intolerant asses like we always are.

Darkmantle:
So.....

can we say that the US

*shades*

started the flame war?

We didn't start the flame war!

Peeps were hatin' on 'for we left a comment~

OT: You don't say? Not even mildly surprised.

Ewyx:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576355623135782718.html

Grats US on going into another war.

They won't go to war again so soon. The people won't stand for another useless war when they are still in the middle of one.

I'm looking forward to someone unleashing the plague in their next attempt to quell Iran

Oh look, a bunch of idiots believing "anonymous sources." How shocking.

So what you're saying is the USA is in fact the dystopian-creating fascist nation of all the sci-fi films, intent for world domination/

Huh, we all saw it coming.

It's very probable, but I doubt these anonymous officials know what they're talking about, even if they actually exist.

BTW, see what happens if you replace "U.S./Israeli" with "EA" in the title.

On an unrelated note, an anonymous official source told me I'm now the supreme ruler of everything.

Zeren:

Ewyx:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576355623135782718.html

Grats US on going into another war.

They won't go to war again so soon. The people won't stand for another useless war when they are still in the middle of one.

I was actually pointing out the hypocrisy that if the US does something, it's considered fine, but if someone else would do the same to the US, it would be considered an act of war, that's all.

Scrumpmonkey:
Zionist conspiricies? The US Government? Cyber Warfare? Oh boy here we go...

Are you joking? Do you really think this is all make believe? Flame is confirmed malware, and very sophisticated, several AV companies have studied it. Just like Stuxnet, this is almost assuredly a US sponsored piece of malware, whether or not Israel was involved I don't know.

IamLEAM1983:

Mumorpuger:
HACK THE PLANET!!!

My rig's got a P6 chip and a custom BIOS. Whatchu gonna do, huh?!

give you a chernobyl virus and fry your PC. duh. About time that one came back to life really, we have too many dumb people with internet access.

Wasnt the virus origins already clear like 2 weeks ago? why the late "news"?

Doom972:
It's very probable, but I doubt these anonymous officials know what they're talking about, even if they actually exist.

i see what you did there.....

Can someone please tell me what that picture is from?

Findlebob:
Can someone please tell me what that picture is from?

It's from the movie "Hackers," a film that's often laughed at by computer experts for just how much basic information it got wrong, but is still a pretty cool movie (For its time) regardless.

Oh come on, this virus is clearly a diversion, a way to probe how the public would react to cyber-warfare being used covertly, and a way to test out cyber-defenses.

If a "spy" virus were to be used to slow down military installations, why the hell would they disguise it as a windows update, and make it able to record Skype calls?
If there indeed a military/intelligence grade virus going around, it's probably not something that easily caught, it would probably not even try to masquerade as a program, it would just trick the computer in question into thinking it isn't there, and not taking up any space.

Pff, windows update...You can do better people.

EDIT: Completly rewritten for tone... first one made me sound like a proper arragant nred! :S

Be carefull with the wording of your report! Electronic Warfare is everything to do with the electromagnetic spectrum (RADAR, LASER, IR, UV, Jamming etc), cyber warfare is a different kettle of fish!!

My computer HAS been running rather slow, in fact, just 10 minutes ago it crawled to start up. Baring in mind this is a high performance gaming rig...

SHUT, DOWN, EVERYTHING!

Exocet:
Oh come on, this virus is clearly a diversion, a way to probe how the public would react to cyber-warfare being used covertly, and a way to test out cyber-defenses.

If a "spy" virus were to be used to slow down military installations, why the hell would they disguise it as a windows update, and make it able to record Skype calls?
If there indeed a military/intelligence grade virus going around, it's probably not something that easily caught, it would probably not even try to masquerade as a program, it would just trick the computer in question into thinking it isn't there, and not taking up any space.

Pff, windows update...You can do better people.

I think you slightly misunderstand what Flame represents, simply as an achievement in Software Engineering.

It ran undetected for at least two years.
It utilized cryptographic techniques that have never been used before in the wild and kind of require a specialized Phd to even explain properly.
Its ability to record Skype calls was due to its ability to just turn hardware (such as mircrophones) on and off at will and then covertly send the information back to its operators.
It also did not technically "disquise itself as a windows update", it just used the process of windows update (which is incredibly hard to manipulate) to gain further system privileges in already compromised systems

I´m sorry, as cool as it would be, people can´t do better at the moment.
Actually, most experts where kind of blown away that we can do AS GOOD as this at the moment.

Which, in turn, also informs why it is so plausible to blame America for Flame.
Because the list of organizations who can pull off something like this is kind of short.

Hevva:
"Flame" Spy Virus May Be of U.S./Israeli Origin

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Now, in a new twist, the finger of blame has been squarely pointed at the U.S. and Israel by anonymous "Western officials with knowledge of the effort."

Permalink

Is it really a twist if its what everyone already thought? Its like the twist at the end of Die Hard is that Alan Rickman gets killed...(SPOILER!).

OT: Is this what the next COD game will be? Instead of having Price sneak onto a submarine to launch a nuke, he will instead sneak into the break room to get a coffee before returning to code some more virus?

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