Stuxnet represents a major evolution in malware

Stuxnet represents a significant leap forward in malware (malicious software) by the fact that it specifically attacks software used in industrial infrastructure. Writing in the Observer newspaper John Naughton provided a handy run down of the Stuxnet worm, a computer virus that disrupted nuclear facilities in Iran in October this year. The virus spreads mainly via infected USB sticks.

Once it infects a machine it spreads to others on the network until it finds and attacks Siemens software, usually found in industrial operations. As well as reportedly infecting controllers at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility there are rumours that Stuxnet may have caused the failure of India’s INSAT-4B satellite in July. It is likely that Stuxnet is the work of a state agency because its sophistication suggests it would take several highly-qualified programmers six months to create.

Symantec issued a detailed analysis of the virus, which is available here.