Iran denies nuclear plant computers hit by 'state virus'

Diplomats and security sources say Western governments and Israel view sabotage as one way of slowing Iran's nuclear work.

Iran denies nuclear plant computers hit by 'state virus'

A computer virus that experts said may have been created by a state did not affect Iran's nuclear plant or government systems, but did hit computers of staff at the plant and Internet providers, officials said on Sunday.

Diplomats and security sources say Western governments and Israel view sabotage as one way of slowing Iran's nuclear work.

A senior official at U.S. technology company Symantec told Reuters on Friday that 60 percent of the computers worldwide infected by the so-called Stuxnet worm were in Iran, prompting speculation that the nuclear power plant may have been targeted in an attempt at sabotage or espionage.

Some Western cyber security companies suggested the attack could only have been conducted "with nation-state support", indicating industrial plants in the Islamic state were the target.

The head of the Bushehr nuclear power plant said the virus had only affected personal computers of staff.

"A team is inspecting several computers to remove the malware ... major systems of the plant have not been damaged," Mahmoud Jafari told the official IRNA news agency.

Iran's Telecommunications Minister Reza Taqipour said the worm had not been able to "penetrate or cause serious damage to government systems", the state-run newspaper Iran Daily reported.

Authorities said Iran had identified some 30,000 Internet providers infected by the Stuxnet worm, blaming Iran's "foreign enemies for creating the virus".

Stuxnet, which was publicly identified in June, was tailored for Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities.

The worm is able to recognise a specific facility's control network and then destroy it, according to German computer security researcher Ralph Langner, who has been analysing the malicious software.

Langner said he suspected Stuxnet was targetting Bushehr nuclear power plant, where unspecified problems have been blamed for delays in getting the facility fully operational.

"The Stuxnet spy worm has been created in line with the West's electronic warfare against Iran," the newspaper quoted Mahmoud Liayi, secretary of the Information Technology Council of the Industries Ministry, as saying.

The self-replicating worm has been found lurking on Siemens systems mostly in India, Indonesia and Pakistan, but the heaviest infiltration appears to be in Iran, according to researchers.


Agencies

Last Mod: 26 Eylül 2010, 18:27
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