Iran Acknowledges Stuxnet Worm Infection

More

Most of the what we know about the Stuxnet worm, which some consider the most sophisticated malware ever, has come from independent security researchers. They noted it could attack the Siemens industrial systems that control power plants, oil pipelines and the like. And they also pointed out that a disproportionate number Iranian computers were infected. Taking those facts together, speculation ran rampant that some state-backed entity created the worm to hamper Iran's nuclear push.

Now, various Iranian agencies have acknowledged the worm's presence, even though (as you might expect) they provided little detail about particular targets or defenses. The Mehr News Agency ran a story with headline, "Iran Successfully Battling Cyber Attack."

One interesting thing to note is that Mehr described the worm as "designed to transfer data about production lines from our industrial plants to (locations) outside of the country." International security researchers went quite a bit farther, noting that what made Stuxnet special was its ability to control industrial systems, not just snoop on them.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant project manager denied that Stuxnet had any impact on the "main systems of the Bushehr power plant," on Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television network."All computer programmes in the plant are working normally and have not crashed due to Stuxnet," the manager said.

Here's Computer World with a roundup of other activity by Iranian government officials:
 

According to the Tehran-based Mehr News Agency, Mahmoud Alyaie, an IT official with Iran's industries and mines ministry, said that 30,000 IP addresses in the country had been infected with Stuxnet. Multiple computers can access the Internet via a single IP address, so the total number of infected Windows PCs may be considerably larger.

A working group composed of experts from several Iranian government ministries has been established to deal with the Stuxnet infection, Alyaie said.

Other sources quoted by Mehr claimed that Iran has the capability to craft the necessary antivirus tools to detect and destroy the worm. Also on Saturday, the Associated Press (AP) news service said that experts from Iran's nuclear energy agency met last Tuesday to plan how to remove Stuxnet from infected PCs. Citing the ISNA news agency, another Tehran-based organization, the AP said no victimized plants or facilities had been named.

Speculation about Stuxnet's likely target has focused on the Bushehr reactor. Saturday, the Web site of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization included a link to a lengthy Mehr story on Stuxnet. That story noted that government officials said that "serious damage that caused damage and disablement" had been reported to officials.

Read the full story at Computer World, the Iranian news agency story, and a good summary at The New York Times.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In