Iran has publicly blamed malware for causing "limited" problems with the country's nuclear program.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the country's enemies of using malware to
disrupt centrifuges involved in uranium enrichment.
"They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our
centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts," he was
as telling reporters at a media conference. "They did a bad
thing. Fortunately, our experts discovered that and today they are not able [to
do that] anymore."
Ahmadinejad did not specifically
as the culprit, but the worm immediately became the focus of
speculation. In the past, Iran
has said only that the worm affected computers belonging to employees at
the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Earlier this month, Iran
temporarily halted most of its uranium enrichment work. Just days prior, former
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Olli Heinonen told
Reuters that Iran
has had problems with equipment used in its uranium
enrichment program for years, but that the Stuxnet
worm may also have been a factor.
According to security researchers, the worm targets frequency converter
drives in industrial control systems. The technology is used to control
electrical power supplied to motors, thereby controlling motor speed. More
specifically, researchers at Symantec found the worm zeros in on frequency
converter drives operating with outputs between 807 Hz and 1,210 Hz.
Low-harmonic frequency converter drives that output more than 600 Hz are
regulated for export in the United States
by the Nuclear
because they can be used for uranium enrichment.
Much of the speculation about Stuxnet has centered on Iran
being the chief target of the worm, though this has not been confirmed. Also a
mystery is just who authored
which was first detected this summer but is believed to go back
to at least June of 2009.
"It's been common knowledge for a couple of years that there are over
100 countries with offensive cyber capabilities," said Eddie Schwartz,
chief security officer at NetWitness. "These capabilities come in the
form of direct ownership by military and intelligence organizations and through
the hiring of 'cyber mercenary' groups. ... For latent organizations in some
sectors, the last couple of years have been a wakeup call."