Israeli officials assume that the US is behind the malware cyber-attack known as Flame, which attacked computers in Israel and across the Middle East recently. This is proof, they claim, that the United States has been collecting information about Israel.
The assumption was reinforced after Iran announced that its computers were also attacked by the computer virus.
The virus was discovered by Kaspersky, a giant Russian anti-virus company. It is believed that Flame is twenty times more powerful than Stuxnet, which targeted Iran's nuclear infrastructure. It may, say experts, take several years to analyse. Nevertheless, they believe that the virus is able to carry out complex operations including taking screenshots, collecting information, recording audio through built-in microphones, intercepting keyboard activities and searching for other machines through local networks.
An executive at Kaspersky said that the attack has to be state-sponsored because of the complexity of the virus, which they believe is beyond the capacity of individual cyber criminals.
"Flame is not designed to steal money from bank accounts," a spokesperson for Kaspersky told the BBC. "It is also different to the rather simple hacking tools and malware used by 'hacktivists'." In Kaspersky's opinion, "The geography of the targets and also the complexity of the threat leave no doubt about it being a nation-state that sponsored the research that went into its development."