Flame malware, which was discovered earlier this year by Kaspersky Labs, had been discovered to be an active cyber-espionage tool used by U.S. and Israel. Now, it has transpired that the same malware was used to target top advisers to the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
A French newspaper reported recently that the attacks which targeted Sarkozy’s advisers were used to hack their computers and seemed a part of a highly focused cyber espionage mission. First, the attackers were able to befriend Sarkozy’s advisers through the social media and then tricked them into revealing the usernames and passwords of their intranet.
These attacks happened precisely at the time when Sarkozy was contesting presidential elections in April 2012, a race he eventually lost. The fresh round of allegations against U.S. may also cast doubts over the credibility of the results of the elections.
The United States has, naturally, denied the allegations with the Department of Homeland Security spokesperson stating, “We categorically deny the allegations by unnamed sources that the U.S. government participated in a cyber attack against the French government. France is one of our strongest allies. Our outstanding cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement and cyber defense has never been stronger, and remains essential in successfully combating the common threat of extremism.”
However, it is unclear how U.S. intends to exonerate itself of such charges when multiple security experts had earlier clearly concluded that Flame was developed during the Bush regime in collaboration with Israel. If indeed Flame malware was used in hacking the computers of Sarkozy’s advisers, it is certainly valid to ask the role of U.S. government in an attempt which makes active use of this malware.