Symantec: Stuxnet existed two years earlier than anyone realized

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A new report from security firm Symantec highlights the discovery of a new version of the Stuxnet virus that crippled Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The most recent finding predates the earliest known instance of the cyber weapon by two years, officials said.

Stuxnet made worldwide news back in 2007 when it was used to attack the country’s main nuclear facilities. Symantec now claims they have found a string of code they are calling Stuxnet 0.5 which dates back to 2005.

Eric Chien, technical director of Symantec's Security Response Team, said there isn’t any really new evidence of who the people behind the attack were but it’s clear that they aren’t just some hactivists or people with a vendetta. It is widely believed that Stuxnet is the product of a joint effort between the United States and Israel although neither country has publically claimed responsibility.

The New York Times claimed last year that President George W. Bush initially ordered the attacks under a program code-named Olympic Games that continued with the Obama administration. Obama reportedly accelerated the attacks last year despite the fact that it became a household name in 2010 when a programming error accidentally sent the code over the Internet.

Stuxnet is regarded by many as one of the most sophisticated pieces of malware ever written. Symantec said it’s a complicated and sophisticated piece of malware that requires a similar level of skill and effort to produce. It affected at least 14 different facilities in Iran during its heyday.

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