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Secondary effects of Stuxnet on Iran nuke program may be far-reaching

Story by Chris CarterA powerful computer virus is attacking Iran's nuclear program, and experts suggest that the secondary effects of the cyber attack may in fact be more damaging than the infection itself.

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 most likely originated from an organization with vast resources, such as a national intelligence agency.

“Since Iran's nuclear program in all probability would be a 'closed' system – without internet access – an individual would have had to carry a thumb drive into the facility and insert that into the system,” said Fred Burton, Stratfor's Vice President of Intelliegence in a video report available to members of Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

Burton says that the resulting investigation could have a more profound effect on the nuclear program than the infection itself, planting a “seed of paranoia among the managers and bosses, and everybody in the workplace becomes scrutinized as a potential leak.”

Burton also surmised that if this were in fact a covert action by a nation-state, evidence could be planted implicating key scientists or engineers.

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