Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stuxnet - First worm to control the inner workings of industrial plants

Who funded virus attack on Iran Nuclear plants

A cyber worm burrowing into computers linked to Iran's nuclear programme has yet to trigger any signs of major damage, but it was likely spawned either by a government or a well-funded private group, according to a new analysis.

The malicious Stuxnet computer code was apparently constructed by a small team of as many as five to 10 highly educated and well-funded hackers, said an official with the web security firm Symantec Corp. Government experts and outside analysts say they haven't been able to determine who developed the malware or why.

Stuxnet, which is attacking industrial facilities around the world, was designed to go after several "high-value targets," said Liam O Murchu, manager of security response operations at Symantec. But both O Murchu and US government experts say there's no proof it was specifically developed to target nuclear plants in Iran, despite recent speculation from some researchers.

The Stuxnet worm infected the personal computers of staff working at Iran's first nuclear power station just weeks before the facility is to go online, the official Iranian news agency reported Sunday.

The project manager at the Bushehr nuclear plant, Mahmoud Jafari, said a team is trying to remove the malware from several affected computers, though it "has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant," the IRNA news agency reported.

It was the first clear sign that the malicious computer code, dubbed Stuxnet, which has spread to many industries in Iran, has affected equipment linked to the country's controversial nuclear programme. The US has been pressing international partners to threaten stiff financial sanctions against Tehran goes ahead with its nuclear program.

The Energy Department has warned that a successful attack against critical control systems "may result in catastrophic physical or property damage and loss."


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