The United States and Israelcollaborated to create the Flame computer virus as part of an effort to slow Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons drive, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The newspaper, citing “Western officials with knowledge of the effort,” said the sophisticated malware was designed to spy on Iran’s computer networks and send back intelligence used for an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign.
US officials have not publicly discussed the matter except to say that they are focused on cyber efforts as part of defense and intelligence.
“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” one former high-ranking US intelligence official told the Post.
The Russian security firm Kaspersky, first credited with discovering Flame, said last week the malware had strong links to Stuxnet.
Kaspersky said its research shows the two programs share certain portions of code, suggesting some ties between two separate groups of programmers.
The cyberattack, aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and keepingIsrael from launching a preventive military strike, sowed widespread confusion in Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant, the Times said.