Wednesday, February 2, 2011

‘Stuxnet’ worm could cause ‘Chernobyl-like disaster’ in Iran, intel assessment warns

A recent Russian intelligence assessment warned that the "Stuxnet" computer worm that's embedded itself into Iran's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant could cause a "Chernobyl-like disaster" should the site be switched on.

The document was obtained exclusively by the Associated Press, which cited Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, as worrying that the Bushehr facility could end up like the Ukrainian nuclear site that experienced a nuclear disaster in 1986, rendering the city virtually uninhabitable.

The "Stuxnet" worm is malicious software code that makes nuclear centrifuges spin out of control. It targets computer control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens, commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other facilities.

Stuxnet is able to recognize a specific facility's control network and then destroy it, according to German computer security researcher Ralph Langner, who has been analyzing Stuxnet since it was discovered in June.

Were a device such as a nuclear reactor ever switched on and the operators were unable to turn it off, it could produce the fallout equivalent to a "small nuclear bomb," the Russian assessment warned, according to the AP.

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