Iran Arrests `Nuclear Spies,' Says It Is Able to Fend Off Any Cyberattacks

Iran has total control of its computer networks and the ability to foil cyberattacks by the nation’s enemies, Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said yesterday, according to the state-run Mehr news agency.

Authorities have arrested a number of “nuclear spies,” Moslehi said, without providing details, according to the report.

The intelligence chief spoke days after Iranian officials confirmed that the Stuxnet computer worm had affected its computer systems, including personal computers of employees at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. A worm is a self-replicating piece of malicious software, or malware, that can damage computer systems.

Industrial computers that were affected by the worm have been cleaned and returned to their units, Deputy Industry Minister Mohsen Hatam said, according to a report published today on state television’s website. Iran said Sept. 26 that the IP addresses of 30,000 computer systems had been infected.

The malware, which has infected industrial computers in several countries, may be part of a campaign to disrupt Iranian nuclear installations, international computer-security researchers said Sept. 24. Almost 60 percent of the affected systems are in Iran, according to data from Symantec Corp., a computer-security software maker.

‘Enemy Spy Services’

“All of the destructive activities perpetrated by the oppressors in cyberspace will fast be discovered, and ways to counter them will be implemented,” Moslehi said, according to Mehr. “The Intelligence Ministry is aware of a series of activities carried out against the Islamic Republic by enemy spy services.”

Stuxnet’s programming and ability to hide itself suggest it may have been designed by a government-sponsored organization in the U.S. or Israel, said Frank Rieger, technology chief at GSMK, a manufacturer of encrypted mobile phones.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program, which the U.S., Israel and their allies suspect is cover for the development of atomic weapons. Iran rejects the claim and says it needs the technology to generate electricity and carry out medical research.

Iran inaugurated its first nuclear-power plant in the southern province of Bushehr on Aug. 21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Tehran at lnasseri@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maher Chmaytelli at mchmaytelli@bloomberg.net

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