Israel Eyed as Iran Hit by Computer Virus

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TEHRAN, Iran - A powerful computer virus known as "Flame" briefly affected Iran's key oil industry computers, a senior Iranian military official said Wednesday.

The malware virus has data-snatching capabilities and can even eavesdrop on computer users.

News of last month's attack is just getting out. Iran has not disclosed the full extent of the disruptions on its computer system, although the government cut Internet links to the country's main oil export terminal -- a move that appeared to be an attempt to contain the virus.

Experts see similarities between Flame and the Stuxnet virus, which disrupted Iran's nuclear centrifuges in 2010. Stuxnet was widely believed to be the work of Israeli intelligence, leading to speculation that Israeli programmers may have struck again.

The Iranian government said the sophisticated Flame virus appeared to be espionage, but didn't blame a specific country or source for the attack.

Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied an Israeli role in the cyber attack.

When asked about Flame, Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon said, "Whoever sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat is likely to take various steps, including these, to hobble it."

"Israel is blessed with high technology, and we boast tools that open all sorts of opportunities for us," he added.

Iranian leaders said experts have successfully produced an anti-virus program to combat Flame and remove the malware from its computers.

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