cyber espionage virus targets European nuclear power

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolo...r-espionage-virus-targets-European-firms.html

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Stuxnet-based cyber espionage virus targets European firms

European firms that play a key role in nuclear power and other critical industries have been targeted by a cyber espionage attack based on Stuxnet, the computer virus that was designed to sabotage the Iranian nuclear programme.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility Photo: AP

By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent

3:50PM BST 19 Oct 2011

Security engineers say it is likely the new variant, Duqu, was created by the same government agencies thought to be behind Stuxnet, an attack that heralded a new era of state conflict online.

But while Stuxnet was created to cause physical damage to Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities by surreptitiously adjusting machinery, Duqu is an intelligence-gathering tool.

The new virus’ precise targets have not been disclosed, but they include European firms that make the software that controls power stations and other industrial facilities. By infiltrating their computer networks, it aims to steal confidential information and potentially reveal vulnerabilities that could be exploited in later attacks.

Inside a target network Duqu seeks out sensitive documents and spies on network users’ activities, including the passwords they type into their keyboards. The information is then smuggled out, disguised as ordinary web picture traffic to circumvent security systems, to a “command and control” server located in India.

Analysis of Duqu has revealed it may have been in use since December last year. It is programmed to remove itself from infected systems after 36 days, so nobody can be sure how many firms have been targeted or how much confidential data stolen.