Ahmadinejad Publicly Acknowledges Stuxnet Disrupted Iranian Centrifuges

By Alexis C. Madrigal

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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http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/11/ahmadinejad-publicly-acknowledges-stuxnet-disrupted-iranian-centrifuges/67155/