Digital State Marketing: Computer trouble at an Iran Nuclear Plant

September 21, 2011 - Digital State Marketing

A worm that is able to seize control of industrial plants has infected the computers of employees at Iran’s first nuclear power station just weeks before it is meant to go online. The IRNA news reported that the malware has not yet cause any problems for the systems at the plant despite the worm infecting several computers.

The malicious computer code that has been named Stuxnet, has also extended to infecting industries that are connected to the country’s nuclear program. This issue is at the centre to the disagreements between Tehran (where the plant is) and Western powers such as the U.S.

German experts discovered the worm in July and it has subsequently appeared in numerous attacks that have taken place mainly in Iran, India, Indonesia and the U.S. The worm is capable of overriding the systems that run the central workings of the targeted industrial plant. It has been said that the spread of the malware within the plant will not affect when the plant goes online, however discussions are in place in order to find a way of battling the worm.

The plant that was built by the Russians will be supervised at an international level, because world powers are concerned that Iran wishes to use other aspects of its civil nuclear power program as a cover for making weapons. The chief worry of world powers is Iran’s main uranium enhancing facility in Nantaz. Iran denies having any plans to build nuclear weapons, and that it is only enriching uranium in order to lower the levels necessary for producing fuel for power plants. When the levels of processing are higher, uranium can be used for nuclear warheads.

The Stuxnet worm has shocked experts because it is the first one to be created in order to override industrial control systems, as opposed to stealing or manipulating data. The U.S is also watching the worm and the Department of Homeland Security is creating a specific team that will be able to react quickly to cyber emergencies if they happen in industrial facilities across the U.S. The news agency ISNA has subsequently reported that the worm has spread throughout Iran, however there were no details as to the places that may have been affected.