Sun, Oct 03, 2010 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Iran On Special Alert As Worm Virus Hits Industry Computer Systems
Mehr News Agency reported this week that the Telecommunications and Industry ministries are on high alert for a worm virus discovered in control and monitoring systems of Iran’s industrial complexes. In recent days, Western media have reported that the worm, nicknamed “Stuxnet”, targets control and monitoring systems made by Siemens. The systems, called SCADA (short for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), are used to control industrial processes, including electricity, water, gas, and oil facilities.
A Belarusian security company that discovered the worm on the servers of an Iranian company which uses Siemens’ SCADA system reported that about 60 percent of virus infection cases were on Iranian facilities.
According to Mehr News Agency, foreign experts believe that the worm was developed and distributed as part of a “cyber terrorism” campaign aimed against Iran’s vital infrastructures. Mahmoud Liaii, director of the Industry Ministry’s Information Technology Council, said in an interview to Mehr that so far there were about 30,000 affected IP addresses in Iran. He noted that a special antivirus program was set up on the control and monitoring systems targeted by the destructive worm, and advised companies that use SCADA systems against using the Siemens antivirus because it may also be used for spreading the worm.
The IT Council director also noted that the worm had been developed and spread by some government agency for purposes of espionage. According to Liaii, Iran established a headquarters with representatives from the Telecommunications and Industry ministries as well as other relevant bodies, including the Iranian Society of Cryptology, to combat the worm and its effects. He added that Iran has the expertise and capability to deal with the virus.
Sa’id Mehdiyoun, director of the IT Company, addressed the issue as well, saying that Maher Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, which operates under the Telecommunications Ministry, formed a special team of professionals from all relevant organizations to combat the worm. Mehdiyoun noted that the center is supposed to provide information and an adequate response to the worm virus, and that a number of teams already operate on behalf of the center to remove the worm from the infected systems.
In an interview granted to Mehr News Agency, Telecommunications Minister Reza Taqipour announced that his ministry’s teams are ready and capable of taking the necessary actions to remove the worm from the infected systems and computers. He also noted that no significant losses were reported so far as a result of the infection. According to Taqipour, the chance of the virus hitting government computer systems is small thanks to the defense systems installed on them. The bulk of the damage will likely be sustained by systems belonging to institutions and organizations that do not use the protection used by the government (Mehr, September 25).
Following Western media reports claiming that the worm was designed to hit, among other things, the Bushehr nuclear reactor, Asghar Zarean, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in charge of safety and security, said in an interview granted to IRNA that the worm had caused no damage to computers used by Iran’s nuclear program. He further added that the Atomic Energy Organization’s computers use special software based on in-house versions developed by the organization’s computer experts, and that they therefore had not been affected by the worm (IRNA, September 26).