Virus Attacking Iran Has Israeli Calling Card

Esther mention could point finger at Israel, or be red herring

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 30, 2010 9:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Computer experts have found a clue that might indicate the origin of Stuxnet, the rogue super-virus that’s believed to target Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor. One file in the code is named “Myrtus,” which can be read as a reference to Esther, the Old Testament heroine who helped the Jews preempt a Persian plot to destroy them, the New York Times reports. The finding has intensified speculation that Israel’s cyberwarfare unit is behind Stuxnet.

It’s also possible that Myrtus is supposed to represent myrtle, a plant important to several regional cultures. Others say it may be a deliberate red herring designed to throw suspicion on Israel. But the possibility that it’s a calling card from Israeli saboteurs is sure to needle Tehran. “The Iranians are already paranoid about the fact that some of their scientists have defected and several of their secret nuclear sites have been revealed,” said one intelligence official. Stuxnet “ramps up the psychological pressure.”

The reactor building of Bushehr nuclear power plant,  just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010.
The reactor building of Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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