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Despite Denial, Iran's Nuclear Program Still Threatened by Cyber Attack

Iran's nuclear program is still struggling to contain a computer virus that attacked their facilities, despite its leaders' claims to the contrary. Experts from the United States and Europe warn that their own security websites continue to be bombarded with traffic from Tehran, an indication that the computer worm known as Stuxnet continues to infect computer systems at the Islamic Republic's two nuclear sites.

Considered the "most sophisticated cyberweapon every created," the Stuxnet worm is a kind of cybermissile specifically designed to penetrate advanced security systems.

According to Fox News, the bug took over the controls of Iran's uranium processing center in Natanz and has also targeted the nuclear reactor in Bashehr.

Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed the worm had been detected and controlled. However, Fox News reports that this claim "doesn't ring true" with computer science experts:

At one of the larger American web companies offering advice on how to eliminate the worm, traffic from Iran has swamped that of its largest user: the United States.

“Our traffic from Iran has really spiked,” said a corporate officer who asked that neither he nor his company be named. “Iran now represents 14.9 percent of total traffic, surpassing the United States with a total of 12.1 percent. Given the different population sizes, that is a significant number.”

Perhaps more significantly, traffic from Tehran to the company's site is now double that of New York City.

According to Ralph Langner, a German expert who first raised alarms about Stuxnet, the fact the worm is still digging is not surprising.  “The Iranians don’t have the depth of knowledge to handle the worm or understand its complexity,” he told Fox News, suggesting the Iranians may never fully succeed in eliminating it.

“Here is their problem. They should throw out every personal computer involved with the nuclear program and start over, but they can’t do that. Moreover, they are completely dependent on outside companies for the construction and maintenance of their nuclear facilities. They should throw out their computers as well. But they can’t,“ he said. “They will just continually re-infect themselves.”

“With the best of expertise and equipment it would take another year for the plants to function normally again because it is so hard to get the worm out," he said.  "It even hides in the back-up systems. But they can’t do it."

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