Baker Institute cyberspace expert available to comment on ‘Flame’ malware

David Ruth

Jeff Falk

 Baker Institute cyberspace expert available to comment on ‘Flame’ malware
Bronk: Middle East hit by third major cyberattack in three years

HOUSTON — (May 29, 2012) — The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that computer malware dubbed “Flame” and described as “the most sophisticated cyber weapon yet unleashed” has been uncovered in computers in the Middle East and may have infected machines in Europe.

Christopher Bronk, a fellow in information technology policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and a former U.S. State Department diplomat who specializes in cybersecurity issues, is available to comment on this development and its possible implications for the United States.

Bronk said Flame, the latest Middle East-oriented cyberattack to be discovered, appears to be an information discovery and “exfiltration” tool aimed at Windows personal computers and designed to enable espionage. “This is the third major piece of malware to be aimed at the Middle East in the last three years, following Stuxnet and Duqu,” he said.

“Flame is much larger than Stuxnet, and offers more potential services to those running it,” Bronk said. “Stuxnet had a very clear aim — to compromise computers driving real machines — whereas Flame appears to be a data-collection tool.”

Bronk most recently authored the paper, “From Tunis to Tunis: Considering the Planks of U.S. International Cyber Policy, 2005-2011,” which investigates how and why the Internet, the wider cyberspace and information technology have come to matter a great deal to the departments of Defense and State as well as other key agencies.

Bronk previously served as a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State on assignments overseas and in Washington, D.C. His last assignment was in the Office of eDiplomacy, the department’s internal think tank on information technology, knowledge management, computer security and interagency collaboration. He also has experience in political affairs, counternarcotics, immigration and U.S.-Mexico border issues.

Since arriving at Rice, Bronk has investigated information security, technology for immigration management, broadband policy, Web 2.0 governance and the militarization of cyberspace. He teaches on the intersection of computing and politics, with appointments in Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering and the University of Houston’s College of Technology, where he teaches in its National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security certified information assurance program.

Bronk has provided commentary for Foreign Policy, ABC, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, the BBC and the Houston Chronicle, among other news outlets. He has published widely on cybersecurity and the impact of information technology upon foreign affairs. Holding a Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, Bronk also studied international relations at Oxford University and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

To schedule an interview with Bronk, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.


Related materials:

“From Tunis to Tunis: Considering the Planks of U.S. International Cyber Policy, 2005-2011”:

 Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute sponsors more than 20 programs that conduct research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.