Washington, DC – The U.S. and Israel jointly developed Flame, a computer virus designed to help sabotage Iran in its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, The Washington Post reported.

Flame reportedly collected intelligence from Iran and other Middle Eastern computer networks for several years, camouflaged as a Microsoft software update, during which time it went undetected.

Security expert Eugene Kaspersky had strongly suspected there was government involvement in the highly sophisticated malicious program Flame when he first reported it in May, but did not suggest any specific countries.

A former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official told the Post that the effort was just one element of a broader plan to derail the country’s nuclear program. “This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” the unnamed official told the paper.

The initial investigation was prompted and supported by the International Telecommunication Union, Kaspersky Lab and CrySyS Lab. Since then, Kaspersky Lab has been closely monitoring the malware, and in collaboration with GoDaddy and OpenDNS has managed to quarantine much of its spread.

In his first keynote in the U.S. since his company uncovered Flame, Kaspersky confirmed on Wednesday that he will deliver a keynote address at the 3rd Annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit on Sept. 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Chris Marlowe contributed to this article, part of which was published in Potomac Tech Wire.

Related links:

Washington Post – U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts, officials say

Kaspersky Labs – Kaspersky Lab Experts Provide In-Depth Analysis of Flame’s C&C Infrastructure

Kaspersky Labs’ SecureList – The Flame: Questions and Answers

The Observer [U.K.] – How Flame virus has changed everything for online security firms

Wired – Report: US and Israel Behind Flame Espionage Tool

All Things D – The Unintended Consequences of Undeclared Cyberwar

Microsoft – Microsoft Security Advisory (2719615)

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