While security researchers have uncovered many things about the Flame malware, one big question has remained unresolved: Who created it?
They might not be surprised by the answer. According to anonymous Western officials, Flame was the work of the governments of the United States and Israel, reports The Washington Post.
The goal of Flame was just as researchers had initially suspected: Espionage. The US and Israeli governments wanted to thwart the nuclear efforts of Iran, and to do that they needed as much information as they could get their hands on. The CIA, NSA, and Israeli military were all involved in the creation of the malware, sources say.
This confirmation follows a story from The New York Times that reported the U.S. and Israel were also responsible for Stuxnet, which attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010.
This connection wasn’t lost on researchers, who last week discovered a code-level connection between Stuxnet and Flame. Seeing the strong similarities in certain segments of the workings of both Stuxnet and Flame, researchers concluded that the programs’ creators were working together. The Washington Post‘s sources confirmed this: Both Stuxnet and Flame were developed as a part of a program known as Olympic Games.
According to the report, Iran discovered Flame as a result of a viral strike Israel made on Iran’s Oil Ministry and oil-export facilities in April. The attack, which Israel carried out without warning the U.S., allowed Iran to uncover Flame’s infiltration.
Not that the discovery of Flame and Stuxnet have deterred the NSA and CIA: Both agencies are still hard at work on follow ups.