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Virus Could Ruin Many Industries' Control Systems

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Stuxnet, a worm that appears to target Iran's nuclear energy plants, can be tweaked to inflict damage on industrial control systems worldwide, and constitutes the most critical cyberthreat that industry is aware of, according to U.S. government officials and industry experts. They caution that as industries integrate networks and computer systems to boost efficiency, they become increasingly susceptible to Stuxnet. U.S. lawmakers say this growing threat makes it crucial that Congress move ahead on bills to broaden government controls and establish requirements to improve system safety.

Symantec's Dean Turner recently told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that there were 44,000 unique Stuxnet computer infections worldwide and 1,600 in the United States. Stuxnet targets companies that employ Windows operating software and a Siemens-designed control system, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Sean McGurk says attackers can use information publicized about the worm to develop modifications that target other industries.

The National Board of Information Security Examiners' Michael Assante urged lawmakers to fortify government authorities and consider imposing performance requirements and other standards on the industry to curb dangerous practices and boost system security.

From The Associated Press
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