Retirement Party Video May Name Israel As Stuxnet Source

 @ibtimes
on February 16 2011 11:36 AM

A retirement party video may confirm suspicions that the worm that attacked Iranian nuclear facilities was an Israeli creation.

The Israeli Newspaper Haaretz reported that at a retirement ceremony for General Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli chief of general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, a video was played that highlighted the successes of his command. Excerpts appeared on Israeli television.

The video referred to the Stuxnet worm, which infected the computer systems at two Iranian uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz and Busehr. The attack slowed Iran's nuclear program, according to experts. Iran maintains that its enrichment is for building reactors to supply electricity, while the U.S. says it is a weapons program.

The Israeli government has never publicly taken responsibility for the attacks.

A report from computer security firm Symantec said that the Stuxnet worm was designed to infect industrial systems. Such systems operate using programmable logic controllers. The worm would take control of those systems and give commands relayed from its creator.

Stuxnet infects computers via removable drives, such as USB sticks or a CD. It replicates over local networks by exploiting vulnerability in Microsoft server systems.

The Symantec report notes that many of the systems targeted by Stuxnet are not connected to the Internet, or even to local networks. That means an attacker would have to have inside information or access. The attackers would have needed to obtain the digital certificates from someone who may have physically entered the premises of the two companies and stole them, as the two companies are in close physical proximity, the report said.

The earliest variants of Stuxnet were seen in 2009. Symantec says that it has found 100,000 infected computers and the vast majority are in Iran. Also, the Stuxnet worm was a directed attack on fie specific organizations. All of them have a presence in Iran.

Worms such as Stuxnet are coming under increased scrutiny as control systems for industrial processes get more complex, and as more of them are connected to the Internet.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story call (646) 461 6917 or email j.emspak@ibtimes.com

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