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Did a USB Stick Infect a Russian Nuclear Plant with Stuxnet?

Illustration for article titled Did a USB Stick Infect a Russian Nuclear Plant with Stuxnet?

There's a common misconception that you need to be connected to the internet to get infected with malware. Well, that's not true and, according to renowned cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky, the folks at a nuclear power plant in Russia learned this the hard way.


Kaspersky recently told the Canberra Press Club in Australia that a Russian nuclear plant was infected by the infamous Stuxnet virus through a tainted USB stick. The plant was connected to the internet at the time, just as the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran which was crippled by Stuxnet in 2010 was not connected. Kaspersky said that the infection occured "during Stuxnet time" but didn't elaborate on the effect of the virus on the Russian nuclear plant. Kaspersky also mentioned that even the International Space Station is infected with malware "from time to time" thanks to USB sticks brought up by scientists.


Skeptics will point out that it's hard to fact-check Kaspersky's claim about the nuclear power plant. However, we do know that the Stuxnet worm's reach extended beyond Iran. The infection hit countries all over the world, in fact, even the United States who allegedly built the dang thing. We do know, however, that viruses have made their way up to the ISS on multiple occasions.

Nevertheless, Kaspersky's larger point rings true. In this brave, new era of cyber threats, no one is safe. "Unfortunately, it's very possible that other nations which are not in a conflict will be victims of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure," said Kaspersky. "It's cyber space. [There are] no borders." There are also no holds barred. [Register via Motherboard]

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As a systems administrator, I would love it if I could feasibly prevent employees from bringing thumb drives and portable storage devices into the building. This would cut down on the ridiculous amount of spyware and viruses I have to deal with on a weekly basis.