Washington: The United States has warned that adapted versions of the Stuxnet virus could cripple power, water and other vital services of the West.
The Stuxnet virus was originally developed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear programme.
The US Department of Homeland Security told a congressional committee that the malicious software, widely dubbed as “the world’s first cyberweapon”, was available for attackers to modify for new targets.
“The Department is concerned that attackers could use the increasingly public information about the code to develop variants targeted at broader installations of programmable equipment in control systems,” the Telegraph quoted the Department, as saying.
Stuxnet was first detected in July last year. Analysis by computer security experts showed the virus had earlier exploited over four previously unknown vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows to take over industrial control systems, making it more sophisticated than any other virus.
The Department of Homeland Security said that the Stuxnet code is in the wild and that it could be adapted.
“Copies of the Stuxnet code, in various different iterations, have been publicly available for some time now,” it warned, adding that officials “remain vigilant and continue analysis and mitigation efforts of any derivative malware”.