Flame Looks Well-Suited for State-Sponsored Espionage
Working with the assumption that Flame is really intended for cyber-espionage, which is what appears to be the case, then how worried should we be? The answer is, not very worried. Flame does not appear to have spread beyond the Middle East, and it doesnt do any actual damage. The infection is easily found if you know what to look for, and Iranian authorities reported that they have created a tool for removing it in the few days since they found out about it. The reality of Flame is that unless youre in one of the affected countries, this isnt much of a threat and certainly doesnt deserve all the hype surrounding it. However, it does show that someone, somewhere, has developed an effective cyber-espionage system and that they have the infrastructure to use it. In other words, worrying specifically about Flame is counter-productive. You should worry about what whoever created Flame is doing now totally undetected.But that also means that only places that have some commerce with Iran also need to worry about being infected; this might explain why only Middle Eastern countries seem to have been affected. However, that does bring up the question of why so many computers in Israel were affected, unless Israel is somehow connecting with Irans computers in some way. But suppose the origin of Flame is really some sort of criminal syndicate? Despite Carrs suggestions, Im not sure that makes sense. Unless the hypothetical criminal syndicate thought Iran might have information worth stealing (nuclear secrets?) and had a ready buyer (the United States?), its hard to see why theyd bother. But its easy to see why other countries would bother. After all, the United Nations has been trying to penetrate Irans nuclear secrets for years. Just because the ITU is an agency thats part of the UN doesnt mean that body wasnt involved. But so could any number of other governmental entities, including the United States. Could the United States possibly be sponsoring a cyber-espionage effort aimed at Iran? I dont know, but if I were the Director of National Intelligence, Id do it in a heartbeat.
And, of course, that brings us back to the question of Flames origin. If Flame was created, as many have suggested, by a national cyber-espionage team of some sort, then the people who should worry are the people on that nations list of enemies. Since the target appears to be Iran in this case, then Iran needs to worry about being attacked by some country that doesnt like them, which is basically everybody.