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Iranian Nuclear Spy Arrests May Be Linked to Stuxnet Worm

As far as malware goes, Stuxnet is more of an enigma than a widespread threat to most computer users, it never really spread significantly and is being used to target industrial controllers from Siemens. There were some interesting aspects of its creation, particularly the use of valid signed certificates, its use of various 0-day exploits, and and the suspicion that it was designed specifically to target Iran's nuclear program.

With more than 60,000 of the approximately 100,000 total infections being in Iran, it seems to be a fairly straight forward assumption that something in Iran is being targeted specifically. Of the infected systems, according to Symantec, two thirds of the Iranian systems are running the Siemens software that the worm attempts to subvert.

There has been a lot of public speculation as to how and where the worm originated, with many suspecting the US or Israel as the origin, given that it seems to specifically target Iranian systems. This kind of specious speculation can easily be applied to many other countries with just as much ease. It appears to be nothing more than numerology applied to Information Security.

Iran has apparently arrested several "nuclear spies" seemingly in relation to the spread of Stuxnet. It will be interesting to see what evidence Iran provides to support these arrests and any link with Stuxnet.

Symantec has a detailed writeup of the malware which outlines their reasons for suspecting state-based development of the malware and why the extremely complex worm is considered such a threat.

3 October 2010

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