Could 'Super Malware' Destroy Iran's Nukes?

'Stuxnet' can search and destroy real-world targets
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2010 9:36 AM CDT
Could 'Super Malware' Destroy Iran's Nukes?
The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

It sounds like something from an awfully imaginative spy flick: A virus that can mysteriously search out and destroy real-world, bricks-and-mortar targets. But it's real, say security researchers. They've identified just such a program, called Stuxnet, and at least one expert thinks it may have already hit Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Stuxnet is so encrypted and complex that its exact workings are still a mystery. Researchers know that it's capable of infecting a computer without any user interaction, and that it can take over automated factory systems at its target. "Until a few days ago, people did not believe a directed attack like this was possible," says one German cyber-security researcher. And it may have already hit its target, he speculates. Microsoft has discovered that Iran is at the epicenter of Stuxnet infections, and both the US and Israel have the necessary cyber-warfare capabilities to launch such an attack.
(Read more malware stories.)

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