Researchers find connection between Flame, Stuxnet computer viruses

Researchers at a computer security firm said Monday they found evidence that the teams who created the Stuxnet and Flame viruses worked together.

The report suggests that both viruses might have been the work of the United States government.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, a Russian firm that first identified the Flame virus, said they discovered nearly identical pieces of code in the two viruses, indicating cooperation between the developers of the viruses.

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The New York Times reported earlier this month that American and Israeli officials created the Stuxnet virus to destroy centrifuges in Iranian nuclear facilities. The program was launched during the George W. Bush administration but expanded under President Obama.

According to the report, Obama continued the attacks even after the virus escaped an Iranian facility and spread to the Internet in 2010.

Flame, a spying program capable of tracking a user's actions on an infected computer, was discovered on computers in the Middle East and Iran last month. 

There has yet to be definitive proof that the United States was behind Flame.

Alexander Gostev, chief security expert for Kaspersky Lab, said in a statement that Flame and Stuxnet use "completely different platforms" and "have different architectures with their own unique tricks that were used to infect systems and execute primary tasks."

"The projects were indeed separate and independent from each other," he said.

But he concluded that the new findings prove that the virus developers "cooperated at least once."

"What we have found is very strong evidence that [Stuxnet] and Flame cyber-weapons are connected," he said.