This is your computer on Flame.(Kaspersky Lab/Wired)
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‘Flame’ Is Broiling Iran’s Computers

New computer malware is the handiwork of some country

Marc Tracy
May 29, 2012
This is your computer on Flame.(Kaspersky Lab/Wired)

It’s not Stuxnet, the path-breaking computer virus that apparently messed with Iranian centrifuges while telling Iranian scientists that their centrifuges were just fine. And it’s not Duqu, a lesser virus also found on Iranian computers that essentially was exclusively useful for espionage. It’s “Flame,” a bit of malware that is, like Stuxnet, apparently “unprecedented” and can be used both to spy on infected computers (from keystrokes to conversations within reach of the computer’s microphone) and also to access and alter infected systems. By far the most infections can be found in Iran; the Islamic Republic is followed by the Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Hrmm.

Wired reports that Russia’s Kaspersky Lab, which just identified Flame (which has been active since at least early 2010), believes Flame “may be part of a parallel project created by contractors who were hired by the same nation-state team that was behind Stuxnet and its sister malware, Duqu.” The Lab is particularly certain that it was indeed a country (as opposed to an individual hacker or a non-national collective) that devised the virus. Hrmmmmm.

Asked about Flame this morning, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told a radio interviewer this morning, “Anyone who sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat—it’s reasonable [to assume] that he will take various steps, including these, to harm it,” adding, “Israel was blessed as being a country rich with high-tech, these tools that we take pride in open up all kinds of opportunities for us.” Hrmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.