Stuxnet worm hits Iranian nuclear plant

Though the worm has apparently done no serious damage to systems at the Bushehr plant, its presence there emphasizes the Stuxnet threat and may fuel speculation about the identity of its creators.

Iran's official news agency said today that a sophisticated computer worm purportedly designed to disrupt power grids and other such industrial facilities had infected computers at the country's first nuclear-power plant but had not caused any serious damage.

The Stuxnet worm, which some see as heralding a new era of cyberwarfare, appeared in July and was already known to be widespread in Iran. In fact, its high concentration there, along with a delay in the opening of the Bushehr plant, led one security researcher to hypothesize that Stuxnet was created to sabotage Iran's nuclear industry.

In addition to emphasizing the threat posed by the worm, which could be used to remotely seize control of industrial systems, today's news could well add to speculation about Stuxnet, the sophistication of which has caused some to suspect that a nation state, such as Israel or the U.S., might be behind its creation.

The worm exploits three holes in Windows, one of which has been patched , and targets computers running Siemens software used in industrial control systems.

Mahmoud Jafari, the project manager at the Bushehr plant, said the worm "has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant" and that a team was working to remove it from several computers, according to Iran's IRNA news agency, which was cited in a report by the Associated Press.

Jafari said the infection involved the personal computers of several staff members working at Bushehr and would not affect plans to open the nuclear plant in October, the AP reported.

About the author

Edward Moyer is an associate editor at CNET News and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch.

 

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