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Bride of Stuxnet

Webcraft as spycraft.

Jun 11, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 37 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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It was a detailed, deliberate process of identifying and exploiting targets that must have required significant manpower and intelligence capability on the C&C side. In other words, the design and deployment of Flame was only half of the job. Another team, with a different skill set, was needed to run the operation once it was in the field.

But once Flame was running, it was like something out of science fiction. Flame could watch a target even when he was completely alone. It could listen to every word he said on the telephone, or through Skype, or to a colleague walking past his desk. It could rifle through his computer files and find any document. Or peek into a cell phone sitting in someone’s pocket in the next room. It never had to worry about getting caught in the act. And on a moment’s notice, it could erase any sign that it was ever there. It kept up constant communication with its handlers, even when they were thousands of miles away, and it always followed orders.

Whoever engineered Flame didn’t just build the most spectacular computer worm ever made. They created the perfect spy.

Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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