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article imageSecurity company finds evidence Stuxnet dates back to 2005

By Leigh Goessl     Feb 27, 2013 in Technology
Researchers at Symantec have found an earlier version of the Stuxnet computer worm that dates back to 2005, not 2009 as previously thought.
Stuxnet made headlines back in 2010 when security researchers announced its presence. It was described as targeting Siemens AG industrial software, hiding deep within the Windows operating systems. The malware was found to have had a high presence in Iran. Headlines at the time indicated it appeared Iran's nuclear facilities, specifically the one at Natanz, were being targeted.
Upon its discovery in the wild, it was previously believed the earliest versions of Stuxnet were in 2009 and that this is the year it was created. Security company Symantec now says it could date back as early as 2005, reported PC Magazine.
"Symantec Security Response has recently analyzed a sample of Stuxnet that predates version 1.001," Symantec said in a blog post. "Analysis of this code reveals the latest discovery to be version 0.5 and that it was in operation between 2007 and 2009 with indications that it, or even earlier variants of it, were in operation as early as 2005."
Symantec said that the earlier version of Stuxnet is "a complicated and sophisticated piece of malware", noting it required skill and effort to produce, like it's later versions did. This date would make it earlier than Iran's Natanz facility was even completed; it was operational in 2007, according to media reports.
"It is really mind blowing that they were thinking about creating a project like that in 2005," Symantec researcher Liam O'Murchu told Reuters.
To date, no government has claimed responsibility, reported ABC News. It has been speculated Stuxnet was developed by the U.S. and Israel to target Iran's nuclear plant.
Stuxnet is considered a groundbreaking piece of malware because of its sophistication and design that has been previously described as something that would only be seen in science fiction. It's capability has been described as powerful because of its ability to potentially take down industrial facilities such as nuclear power plants or gas refineries. Back in 2010, one security expert described it as changing the scope of their jobs.
The highest concentration of Stuxnet has been found in Iran, 47 percent, with 21 percent in the United States. It has also cropped up in other countries, such as Italy (9 percent), Germany (5 percent), Luxemborg (5 percent), and Brazil (3 percent); the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Malaysia were also listed as having Stuxnet findings.
More about Stuxnet, Stuxnet malware, Symantec, Malware, Iran
 
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