Iran on Thursday blamed Israel
for the Flame
malware attack that hit its computer systems two days ago.
MAHER Center, which refers to the virus as "Flamer," said that the attack "has caused substantial damage" and that "massive amounts of data have been compromised and lost."
While it is unknown who is behind the cyber-strike, said to be highly sophisticated, IT experts say that only a country could have developed such a complex virus.
Iran's allegations against Israel were based on a statement made by Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon in an interview with Army Radio, saying that "All is fair in the fight to stop Iran's nuclear program" – including the use of malware.
Ya'alon softened his statement a few hours later. "There are several countries in the West with vast technological capabilities that view Iran, and particularly a nuclear Iran, as a significant threat," he wrote on his Twitter page. "These countries are probably capable of dealing in cyber warfare.
Massive amounts of data lost? Bushehr nuclear facility (Photo: EPA)
An Iranian Foreign Ministry statement carried by the Fars news agency said that "Top Israeli officials all but admitted that they have created the most complex spyware in history.
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"Moshe Yaalon, Israel's vice premier, told their military radio station that anyone taking the Iranian threat seriously must take steps to hurt Iran."
Fars further quotes Yaalon as saying that "Israel has been blessed with having elite technology at its disposal. These accomplishments open up many opportunities."
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that "Illegitimate regimes were spreading viruses to harm other (regimes)." He did not name Israel specifically, but Tehran often refers to the Israeli government as the "illegitimate Zionist regime."
Shiri Hadar contributed to this report