We’re assuming most of you have already heard about this little bit of news the Washington Post broke yesterday but just wanted to get it out there in case you missed it. Apparently, the the NSA, CIA, and Israeli military developed Flame. However as highlighted in the ArsTechnica piece below, there still has not been any official confirmation. Kind of annoying that the Ars title starts with “Confirmed” (hopefully our title will undo some of that; guess that’s journalism though 😉 ). Anyway, the article also noted that this discovery and its relationship to Stuxnet is believed to represent the first sustained “cyber” campaign to sabotage a U.S. adversary. We find this hard to believe though … it’s more likely to be just the first one exposed.
The United States and Israel jointly developed the Flame espionage malware to collect information that would be useful in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed Western officials with knowledge of the operation.
While important, the report isn’t entirely unexpected. Researchers said last week they had conclusive proof that developers of Flame collaborated with developers of Stuxnet, the highly sophisticated computer worm that targeted uranium enrichment operations in Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. A week before that, an in-depth article in the New York Times provided the first confirmation that Stuxnet was created by the US and Israel before they ultimately lost control of it. Flame was part of “Olympic Games,” the same classified effort that spawned Stuxnet, Washington Post journalists Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Julie Tate reported Tuesday.
Still, the report is the first to cite unnamed officials saying Flame was jointly devised by personnel in the National Security Agency, the CIA, and Israel’s military. As such, it has helped to flesh out details of what is believed to be the first sustained campaign of computer-aided sabotage of a US adversary. And like the confirmation that Stuxnet received the explicit backing from two US presidents, the latest confirmation could harm US interests by touching off a cyber-arms race and making it harder for US officials to argue against their use.
Is this the beginning of a cyber-arms race? Post your comments below. Today’s post pic is from Software-in-Action.com.