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Thunderstruck: Iran's nuclear facilities given AC/DC treatment by computer worm

AC/DC guitarist Angus Young plays in Sydney on February 18 2010.

AC/DC guitarist Angus Young plays in Sydney on February 18 2010.

Two of Iran's nuclear plants have been struck by a computer worm - Thunderstruck to be precise.

That's if you believe an email allegedly sent by an Iranian nuclear scientist to the chief research officer of Finland IT security firm F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen, this week and published on F-Secure's blog.

Hypponen said he couldn't confirm whether the details of the email were true, but could confirm it was sent from someone within the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran. It describes how a computer worm allegedly compromised two Iranian nuclear plants by shutting them down and making workstations play Australian rock band AC/DC's Thunderstruck song late at night, at full volume.

A suspected uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, 156 kilometres southwest of Tehran, is seen in this September 27, 2009 satellite photograph released by DigitalGlobe on September 28, 2009.

A suspected uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, 156 kilometres southwest of Tehran, is seen in this September 27, 2009 satellite photograph released by DigitalGlobe on September 28, 2009.

Hypponen, who recently made an appearance at the annual AusCERT security conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland to reveal what he believed was evidence to suggest governments the world over were stockpiling on computer exploits to attack other nations, said he wasn't "sure what to think" of the scientist's email. In an interview with Gawker he said he didn't buy the scientist's story.

"I am writing you to inform you that our nuclear program has once again been compromised and attacked by a new worm with exploits which have shut down our automation network at Natanz and another facility Fordo near Qom," the email sent by the Iranian scientist to Hypponen and published on the F-Secure blog states.

"According to the email our cyber experts sent to our teams, they believe the hacker tool Metasploit was used. The hackers had access to our VPN. The automation network and Siemens hardware were attacked and shut down. I only know very little about these cyber issues as I am scientist not a computer expert."

Chief research officer of Finland IT security firm F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen.

Chief research officer of Finland IT security firm F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen.

The scientist added: "There was also some music playing randomly on several of the workstations during the middle of the night with the volume maxed out. I believe it was playing 'Thunderstruck' by AC/DC."

If true, it's not the first cyber attack Iran's nuclear facilities have had to deal with - the country has, for some time, been the target of computer viruses like Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame. The New York Times reported in June that Stuxnet was built as part of a US and Israeli operation to stop Iran's nuclear efforts.

32 comments

  • Honestly i think the only way to settle this is Iran and Israel head to head, no America no Russia and winner takes all.

    Commenter
    Aussie Aussie Aussie
    Date and time
    July 25, 2012, 2:07PM
    • As long as after Israel wins, Australia goes head to head with Indonesia with no interference from America or China!

      Commenter
      Wmb
      Location
      Elsternwick
      Date and time
      July 25, 2012, 4:03PM
  • I think Highway to Hell would have been more appropriate !

    Commenter
    bugs
    Date and time
    July 25, 2012, 2:16PM
    • hahahaha... this is too good to be true!! state sponsored pwnage with a bit of lulz thrown in.

      Commenter
      gigidy
      Date and time
      July 25, 2012, 2:23PM
      • That's terrible. I'm sure that the song has been stolen and AC/DC aren't getting the appropriate royalties for this!

        Commenter
        Royalties?
        Date and time
        July 25, 2012, 2:33PM
        • Haha...very true! Whoever responsible and most likely the hypocritical state we made friends with should pay AC/DC royalties per workstation basis.

          Commenter
          Gerson
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          July 25, 2012, 2:49PM
      • End of this Cyber War, Iran will be the developer of next generation Firewall and Antivirus. It's amazing that Iran is able to hold off all these foreign attacks and not blow up the whole plant ...

        Commenter
        blackMORE
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        July 25, 2012, 2:43PM
        • Bon Scott is protecting us from the other side..

          Commenter
          Darron
          Date and time
          July 25, 2012, 2:56PM
          • its funny that Iran uses windows - made by their arch enemy country.

            Commenter
            rob
            Location
            melbourne
            Date and time
            July 25, 2012, 3:06PM
            • I'm assuming the Iranians haven't figured out that can just unplug their speakers.....

              In other news i'm available as an I.T expert

              Commenter
              Greg
              Location
              Melbourne
              Date and time
              July 25, 2012, 3:32PM

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