Iran on Sunday said its Bushehr atomic power plant was safe but confirmed that a cyber-attack had been launched against many of its industrial computers.
“The main systems of the Bushehr nuclear power plant have not been damaged,” Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Mahmoud Jahfari, the plant's project manager as saying. “Investigations show that some private software of the power plant's employees have been contaminated.”
Director of Information Technology Council of the Ministry of Industries and Mines Mahmoud Liaii said IP addresses of 30,000 computer systems had been infected by a powerful computer worm — a malicious software — named Stuxnet, Iran's Mehr news agency reported.
“This computer worm is designed to transfer data about production lines from our industrial plants to locations outside Iran,” said Mr. Liaii. He added: “An electronic war has been launched against Iran.”
Siemens software targeted
Analysts say once it has caused an infection, Stuxnet, a highly sophisticated worm, hijacks an industrial control software made only by the German firm Siemens. As a result it can cause heavy industrial machinery using that software to malfunction significantly. Siemens was at one time involved in the Bushehr nuclear facility, before the Russians took over the project.
Computer-security software firm Symantec Corporation said nearly 60 per cent of the computers infected worldwide by the Stuxnet malware were in Iran.
The website of Bloomberg television quoted Frank Rieger, the technology chief of GSMK, which makes encrypted mobile phones as saying the worm may have been developed by a government-sponsored establishment in United States or Israel. He estimated it may have taken as many as 10 skilled programmers working for around six months to construct this malware at a cost of around $3 million.
The New York Times said it had reported in 2009 that the former U.S. President, George W. Bush, had issued authorisation for “new efforts, including some that were experimental, to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks that serve Iran's nuclear programme”.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Reza Taghipour said Iranian engineers possessed the skills to counter the cyber-threat.