A Russian-based internet security firm says a powerful spyware virus, with unprecedented data-snatching capabilities, has attacked computers in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Iran did not disclose any damage done by the virus. But a unit of the Iranian communications and information technology ministry said it produced an anti-virus capable of identifying and removing the new malware, dubbed "Flame."
Russian digital security provider Kaspersky Lab, which identified the virus, said in a release posted on its website late Monday that "the complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious program exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date."
The virus' origin has not been identified, but suspicion immediately fell on Israel, famous for its technological innovation and its tireless campaign against Iran's suspect nuclear program.
Israel's vice premier did little to deflect that speculation in an interview Tuesday.
"Whoever sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat is likely to take various steps, including these, to hobble it," Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio. "Israel is blessed with high technology, and we boast tools that open all sorts of opportunities for us."
Tehran's nuclear and other industrial facilities have suffered periodic cyber attacks dating back to 2010, when the Stuxnet virus disrupted controls of some nuclear centrifuges. Iran claims the computer viruses have done no serious harm to Iran's nuclear or industrial facilities, and sees them as part of a campaign by Israel, the U.S. and their allies to undermine the Iranian nuclear program.