Virus may have been created to attack Iran

A computer worm that targets Siemens systems used by factories may have been created by a government to attack Iran's controversial nuclear facility.

U.S. officials have said they do not know who is behind the "Stuxnet" computer worm, which was first detected in June and has been found on industrial systems in India, Germany and Iran. Some cybersecurity experts have speculated the virus, which can disable physical security and factory equipment, was created or funded by a government because of its sophistication.

“Stuxnet was not designed to steal money, send spam, grab personal data. It was designed to sabotage plants, to damage industrial systems," said Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and chief executive officer of security software firm Kaspersky Lab.

"This is the turning point and we are entering a new world. The '90’s were a decade of cyber-vandals, the 2000’s were a decade of cybercriminals. Now we are entering the decade of cyber-terrorism, cyber-weapons and cyber-wars.”

The virus has been found mostly in power facilities but has also spread to water purification plants and other facilities that use Siemens's systems. Siemens said it has received 15 reports of affected customers, five of which were in Germany. The worm is capable of both stealing the design of industrial systems for corporate espionage and taking control of those systems to make changes.

The security firm Symantec has been studying the Stuxnet worm and plans to release a report on the details of its findings on Wednesday.