23 Sep 2010

Researchers dub Stuxnet world's first cyber super weapon

Internet security researchers breaking down the Stuxnet worm say the world has never seen a cyber weapon quite like it.

The complexity, sophistication and encryption of Stuxnet have many experts believing it was created to specifically prey on and destroy a target in the physical world. Many experts agree that target may be the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, which many world leaders believe is being used to produce weapons.

"The fact that we see so many more infections in Iran than anywhere else in the world makes us think this threat was targeted at Iran and that there was something in Iran that was of very, very high value to whomever wrote it," an expert told BBC news.

Malware is generally developed to spread spam or swindle users out of their money, but never before has a cyber scam aimed to destroy a physical target, experts say.

Stuxnet has been carefully dissected since first being discovered early this summer. Instead of targeting systems connected to the internet for security reasons, Stuxnet preys on Windows machines with USB keys. Microsoft has released several patches to try and protect its users.