Stuxnet, the virus designed to take out the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility in 2010, is now in the wild, and has infected a Russian power plant.
The Stuxnet virus, which was used to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program a few years back, has gone rogue and hit a supposedly secure facility: a Russian nuclear power plant. While speaking to Australian journalists, Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Kaspersky Lab internet security firm, said he had been tipped off about the nuclear plant’s infection by a friend who worked there. Kaspersky did not comment on when the attack took place, but suggests it was around the same time as the Iranian attack.
Kaspersky made the revelation during a presentation on cyber-security he held for Australia’s National Press Club. He also mentioned that USB sticks occasionally carry viruses to the International Space station, though nothing as bad as Stuxnet. He used both the plant and space stations as examples of why even at facilities with no direct internet access (neither of the two are connected), you’re never really safe from threats. It’s believed that Stuxnet was originally developed by Israel and the United States with the intention of executing the 2010 Iranian nuclear program attacks, and Kaspersky issued a warning there too: “What goes around comes around,” Kaspersky said. “Everything you do will boomerang.”
Stuxnet was the first virus developed specifically to target national infrastructure. Internet security firm Symantec says they found the first evidence of Stuxnet code on the web as early as 2005, and the groups behind it were supposedly making attempts to compromise the Iranian nuclear program as early as 2007, when Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility went online. It took a further three years for Stuxnet to hit the public light however, when it compromised the programmable logic control automation systems for the facility’s centrifuges, disrupting a vital process in Natanz’s nuclear enrichment process.
The centrifuges which Stuxnet attacked in 2010
At some point, Stuxnet went rogue. Just like a biological virus, it spread and at this point, it’s in the wild, ready to hit anyone. “There are no borders in cyberspace, and no one should be surprised at any reports of a virus attack, no matter how ostensibly secure the facility” said Kaspersky.