April 25, 2011

New Virus Attacks Iran Yet Again

A military officer told Mehr news agency on Monday that Iran has been hit with new malicious software as part of cyber attacks against the country.

"Certain characteristics about the 'Stars' virus have been identified, including that it is compatible with the (targeted) system," Gholam Reza Jalali, commander of the Iranian civil defense organization, told the news agency.

"In the initial stage, the damage is low and it is likely to be mistaken for governmental executable files," Jalali said, adding that Iranian experts were still investigating the full scope of the malware's abilities.

He did not specify exactly what kind of equipment the virus was targeting or when and how it had been spotted.

Tehran was hit with the "Stuxnet" computer virus last year, which was designed to hurt the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear program.

Iran accused the U.S. and Israel of launching Stuxnet, which was publicly identified last June and reportedly mutated and infected at least 30,000 computerized industrial equipment in the following months.

Iran admitted in December that its uranium enrichment plant in the central city of Natanz, which is regularly inspected by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, had been the victim to the worm.

Mehr reported that Jalali urged the U.N. to take appropriate measures during the ongoing "cyber attacks" against Iran.

"Confronting the Stuxnet virus does not mean that the threat has been fully removed, since viruses have a certain life span and it is possible that they continue their activity in a different form," he said.

Computer security firm Symantec said in November that Stuxnet might have been designed to disrupt the motors that power gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran's nuclear program aims to develop atomic weapons.  Iran denies the charges, and it says the program is only for peaceful purposes.