Israel and US behind Stuxnet in Iran attack, say experts

By Stuart Sumner
17 Jan 2011 View Comments

The Stuxnet virus which successfully attacked an Iranian nuclear power station, setting the country's nuclear programme back by several years, is alleged to have been the result of a combined effort from Israel and the US.

These allegations come from a report in the New York Times (NYT) over the weekend. According to the report, US experts have worked with Israeli teams testing the Stuxnet code on the same centrifuge systems as those used in Iran.

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"To check out the worm, you have to know the machines," said an American expert on nuclear intelligence, according to the NYT. "The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out."

During the attack, the worm caused around 1,000 centrifuges to spin out of control, severely damaging the equipment and causing a risk to human life. This went undetected for some time, as part of Stuxnet's code allowed it to record the telemetry of normal operations, and play that back to operators who otherwise may have noticed that something was wrong.

Analysts have said that parts of the malicious code may still be lying dormant in the Iranian nuclear networks, and that further attacks may still be possible. Others have pointed out that if the US had a hand in the attack, it might soon be bitten, since the code could be used as a template to attack US infrastructure.

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