Conspiracies Surround Iran’s ‘Stars’ Computer Virus

Iran has given little detail on the latest cyberattack they found crawling through their systems—malware they dubbed the “Stars” virus, with claims it was meant to spy on government networks. Vague details on the virus, however, have cast both doubt and fear over its legitimacy.

The April 25 announcement was made by the head of Iran’s civil defense organization, Gholamreza Jalali, on the organization’s website. Jalali stated the virus has caused little damage and is currently being analyzed. He noted that it was “coordinated and compatible with the system” it was discovered on, yet it was not stated where the virus was found.

India is already on the alert following the announcement. The last major computer virus to hit Iran, Stuxnet, ended up impacting India as well. Iran’s state-run media announced on Sept. 26, 2010, that Stuxnet infected computer systems of its nuclear power plant.

The virus was designed to attack supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer systems used to control systems including electrical power grids and chemical processing plants. Although little was said of its impact outside Iran, Stuxnet spread to SCADA systems all over the world—including in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia.

India’s Diligent Media Corporation stated a rumor in an Apr. 29 report that the virus “can cause damage to our country’s critical cyber infrastructure,” and added that Stars “is suspected to be a variant of the Stuxnet worm that had infected Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”

At this point, however, any statements on the intent or capabilities of the Stars virus are mere speculation.

Stars has joined the heaps of malware floating around the Web, and its origins could be the same as any of them. In 2010, more than 286 million new malware variants were discovered, according to aSymantec Internet Security Threat Report. This was along with a 93 percent increase in Web-based attacks.

Read the full story here.