Flame cyberweapon written using gamer code, report says

Flame — a complex cyberweapon that forced Iran to cut off its Oil Ministry rigs from the Internet — was reportedly written using the same language as games such as Angry Birds.

Fox News reports that the virus was written using the computer language LUA, which game programmers like because it’s simple and stable. It’s also easy to embed, the report said, and Flame’s authors may have used the language to make the virus harder to detect.

The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima reported that the virus, also known as Skywiper and Flamer, is 20 times the size of the virus that hit an Iranian nuclear plant, Stuxnet.

The Post also reported that Iran has acknowledged that the Flame virus has been found in computers nationwide, and that it appears to be related to previous viruses Stuxnet and Duqu.

Because the virus is so complex, it appears to be state-sponsored. Iran has accused both the United States and Israel of creating Stuxnet, though there hasn’t been any proof of authorship. Some analysts told the Post that they suspect the United States or Israel may be behind Flame as well, in part due to the virus’s sophistication.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the Post’s story. Israeli officials have publicly rejected a link to the cyberattack, after the country’s vice prime minister made comments that seemed to indicate Israel may have had a hand in producing Flame.

Moshe Yaalon, the vice prime minister and minister for strategic affairs told Israel’s Army Radio Tuesday that it is reasonable for any country that sees Iran as a threat to use “all means at his disposal, including these, to harm the Iranian nuclear system.” Yaalon also said that Israel is a country “rich in high-tech.”

But in a statement to the BBC, a spokesman for Yaalon said, “There was no part of the interview where the minister has said anything to imply that Israel was responsible for the virus.”

The virus appears to be capable of logging keyboard strokes, activating computer microphones and taking screen shots, the Post reported. Countries across the Middle East have reported being affected.

Related stories:

Cybersecurity experts needed to meet growing demand

Iran acknowledges that Flame virus has infected computers nationwide

Newly identified computer virus, used for spying, is 20 times size of Stuxnet

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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