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Rogue US-Israeli cyberwar weapon 'infected Russian nuclear plant'

Even the space station has been infected by malware, claims Kaspersky

North Anna Power Plant

Stuxnet - the famous worm widely credited with crippling the Iranian nuclear weapons programme for several years - also infected the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant. Unspecified malware has even reached the International Space Station, according to the boss of Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab.

Eugene Kaspersky said he heard about the nuclear infection from a "friend of mine" at the unnamed nuclear plant. The unnamed staffer "sent a message their nuclear plant network which was disconnected from the internet ... was badly infected by Stuxnet," Kaspersky said, SC Magazine reports. The malware apparently got into the air-gapped network of the nuke plant on an infected USB stick.

Kaspersky told the anecdote during a recent presentation to the Canberra Press Club during which he spoke about cybercrime, cyber-espionage and attacks against infrastructure systems to members of the mainstream press in Australia.

The charismatic securityware businessman went on to claim that even machines on the International Space Station had been affected by malware, after - unnamed - cyber nasties were carried there on removable media by Russian astronauts.

"Scientists, from time to time, they are coming to space with USBs which are infected. I'm not kidding," he insisted. "I was talking to Russian space guys and they said from time to time there are virus epidemics in the space station."

The most famous Stuxnet infections occurred in Iran's bombproof, deeply buried uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2009 and 2010, wrecking high-speed centrifuges after infecting computers connected to SCADA industrial control systems at the plant. The Obama administration last year leaked its role in developing Stuxnet as part of a wider US-Israeli information warfare effort, codenamed Operation Olympic Games, that began under the presidency of George W Bush.

The worm was detected after it escaped onto the internet, and first described by Belarussian firm VirusBlokAda in June 2010.

According to Mr Kaspersky there are only two major infrastructure malware attacks a year worldwide, the only one this year having been targeted against banks and media organisations in South Korea.

The security-biz chieftain's remarks on Stuxnet at the Canberra Press Club are at approximately 26 minutes into the video below. ®

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