The Stuxnet computer virus believed to have been developed by the United
States or Israel to contain threats from Iran dates back at least to
2007, researchers said Wednesday.
The security firm Symantec said
Stuxnet, which until now was thought to have been developed in 2009, is
older than previously reported.
An analysis of the code used in
the malware reveals 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," a Symantec blog post said.
Stuxnet was designed
to attack computer control systems made by German industrial giant
Siemens and commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power
plants and other critical infrastructure.
Most Stuxnet infections
have been discovered in Iran, giving rise to speculation it was intended
to sabotage nuclear facilities there.
Some reports say US and
Israeli intelligence services collaborated to develop the computer worm
to sabotage Iran's efforts to make a nuclear bomb.
Stuxnet "one of the most sophisticated pieces of malware ever written,"
and said "a small number of dormant infections" have been found over
the past year. Nearly half were in Iran, but other infections were
located in the United States and other countries.
Russian computer security firm, said last year Stuxnet was related to
another computer virus dubbed Flame, which could have been created in
2007 or 2008.