JERUSALEM, Israel -- The computer virus that's been relaying data from Iranian computer networks was jointly developed by Israel and the United States to slow Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
"This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action…Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this," one former senior U.S. intelligence official commenting on the Flame and Stuxnet malware said.
Since the Flame virus, detected just a month ago following a series of cyber-attacks on Iran's oil industry, has some of the same code as Stuxnet, experts believe the two programs were developed simultaneously by the same people.
There's broad consensus that Flame is one of the most highly sophisticated and effective malware programs to date.
Eugene Kaspersky of the Moscow-based Kapersky Labs recently told CBN News if Stuxnet were a car, then Flame would be a "space shuttle."
After gaining access to highly secure networks, it reproduces itself before controlling normal functions and relaying the information to its programmers.
Flame can activate microphones and cameras, take screen shots, capture location data from images, log keyboard input and send and receive information via wireless Bluetooth technology.
The program did all this under the guise of a routine Microsoft software update, while evading detection through programming that cracked encryption algorithm.
According to the report, using cyber-technology to delay Iran's nuclear weapons program began during former President George W. Bush's second term with gathering data, identifying potential targets and developing the malware to disrupt them.
Former officials reportedly said the program became operational in 2008, when the CIA assumed control from the military.