A powerful computer virus is attacking Iran's nuclear program, and evidence indicates a targeted cyber attack from a national intelligence agency.
The Stuxnet worm targets German-manufactured Siemens software systems found in automated industrial systems like those in Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor. Since Stuxnet's discovery in June, information technology analysts have now had time to study the worm, determining that due to its advanced nature and ability to exploit security vulnerabilities and using stolen security certificates, the worm may have been created by a national intelligence agency.
According to Mahmoud Jafari, the project manager at Bushehr, Stuxnet has not affected the site's main computers, but has attacked several personal computers. Computer World said Iran's semi-official IRNA news agency and other media have reported the worm has infected some 30,000 computers.
Jafari stated that Bushehr's October launch date will not be affected. The plant has experienced numerous delays, and Iran has not yet offered an explanation why they have pushed back their recent Sept. 2 deadline. Sources for the Israeli Debkafile news service estimate that some 3,000 centrifuges at the Natanz facility have stalled.
Another IRNA report states that the extent of the attack is unclear, and that it could take two or three months to repair the infected systems. However, the damage could increase as two or three newer versions of the worm are now spreading.
According to Fox News, Pentagon Spokesman Col. David Lapan said the Department of Defense can “neither confirm nor deny” whether it is behind the attack.
Stuxnet has also affected computers in India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, but the majority of attacks have been against Iranian systems. (By Chris Carter/Sept. 28, 2010)