16 November 2010
Research by the cyber security company Symantec on a computer virus concludes that it was specifically made to target electronic equipment used in uranium enrichment, deepening suspicions its aim was to sabotage Iran’s suspected nuclear arms program. Stuxnet, a malicious computer worm of unknown origin that attacks command modules for industrial equipment, was described by some experts as a guide cyber missile.
Thanks to the worm's sophistication, uncertainty has lingered about its origins and exact aim. In July, German company Siemens learned that the malware was attacking its widely-used industrial control systems. Technical problems reportedly cut the number of working centrifuges in Iran's uranium enrichment program.
The new Symantec report contains evidence that reportedly supports the enrichment sabotage theory, pointing to signs in the way Stxunet's changes the behavior of equipment known as frequency converter drives. Stuxnet "sabotages" the systems the drives control, a paper posted online by Symantec researcher Eric Chien said. The German cyber expert Ralph Langner reached the same conclusion independently of Symantec. Langner was quoted by the ‘Reuters’ news agency as saying that a gas centrifuge in Iran was the likely target of the worm.
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