Ahmadinejad Publicly Acknowledges Stuxnet Disrupted Iranian Centrifuges

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Malicious software apparently designed to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program was able to do just that, Iran's president acknowledged today. Security researchers found that the Stuxnet worm could insinuate itself into industrial control systems -- and if it found a particular brand and arrangement of motor controllers would begin a long-term sabotage program. Now, in the wake of the apparent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged that Stuxnet did hit his country's centrifuge facility, though he downplayed its impact.

But Mr. Ahmadinejad publicly acknowledged, apparently for the first time, that Iran's nuclear program had recently been disrupted by a malicious computer software that attacked its centrifuges.

"They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts," he said at the news conference. Iranian officials had previously acknowledged unspecified problems with Iran's centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium that can be used for peaceful energy generation or atomic weapons. But the Iranians had always denied the problems were caused by malicious computer code.

A computer program known as Stuxnet is believed to have struck Iran over the summer. Experts said that the program, which is precisely calibrated to send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control, was likely developed by a state government. Mr. Ahmadinejad did not specify the type of malware or its perpetrators but said that "fortunately our experts discovered that and today they are not able anymore."

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. 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 Web site 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.

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