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Stars worm appears in Iran, worrying smart grid security experts

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Iran's nuclear ambitions were hobbled by the Stuxnet computer worm, a joint American and Israeli effort that wiped out more than 20 percent of the country's nuclear centrifuges. Now, reports have surfaced of a new worm attacking systems in Iran, causing security experts to worry that the virus could be used to attack the smart grid in the U.S.

In Iran, high ranking officials have publicly voiced concerns over the Stars worm. Iran Brigadier General Gholam-Reza Jalali told the country's Mehr News Agency that cyber security analysts believe the virus may mirror the Stuxnet in its ability to transform from a seemingly innocuous file to a more malignant threat to critical infrastructure.

"Certain characteristics about the Stars worm have been identified, including that it is compatible with the [targeted] system and that the damage is very slight in the initial stage," he told the news agency. "It is likely to be mistaken for executable files of the government."

The dearth of information surrounding the Stars worm has alarmed some industry watchers, who fear the virus will be used against the U.S. smart grid, potentially disrupting the nation's supply of energy. According to reports, the Stars worm is similar to the Stuxnet in its ability to exploit supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems like the smart grid. 

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