Israel Denies Creating ‘Flame’ Cyberattack
Israel has denied that it’s behind the Flame cyberattack that has infected computers across the Middle East.
Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s vice-prime minister, seemed to have hinted that Israel was responsible for creating Flame during a recent radio interview.
“I would imagine that everyone who sees the Iranian nuclear threat as a significant one, and that is not only Israel, it is the entire Western world, headed by the United States of America, would likely take every single measure available, including these, to harm the Iranian nuclear project,” said Yaalon, referring to Flame.
However, a government spokesperson later told the BBC that Yaalon’s comments were not a formal admission of responsibility.
“There was no part of the interview where the minister has said anything to imply that Israel was responsible for the virus,” said the spokesperson.
Flame was discovered last week by Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs along with the United Nations’s International Telecommunications Union.
Immediately upon its discovery, Flame caused a great stir amongst the cybersecurity and international affairs communities. Kaspersky labeled it a new phase in an ongoing cyberwar, and a cybersecurity coordinator at the ITU called the organization’s warning about Flame “the most serious. . .we have ever put out.”
However, some private cybersecurity experts have accused Kaspersky and the UN of exaggeration.
Flame is more a tool of cyber espionage than a cyberweapon: It doesn’t seem to harm networks, but instead turns infected computers into sophisticated intelligence-gathering devices, transmitting sensitive information to an as-yet-unknown source. Flame uses computers’ cameras, microphones and wireless capabilities to gather data unbeknownst to users.
Many experts believe Flame to be too sophisticated to be the product of anything less than a national government. Some commentators have pointed the finger at the U.S. and Israel which, according to a recent New York Times report, were the creators of Stuxnet, a virus designed to knock out Iranian nuclear facilities. The U.S. has also denied it was behind Flame.
An Iranian military official confirmed last week that Flame had briefly impacted the country’s oil industry until a fix was allegedly discovered.
Who do you think is behind Flame and why? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.