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Iranian leader at Natanz facility Photo: AFP
Iranian leader at Natanz facility Photo: AFP

NYT links Iran worm to bible

File named 'Myrtus', moniker for Esther, has experts believing Israel planted virus in Iran's computers

Dudi Cohen
Published: 09.30.10, 17:05 / Israel News

Computer specialists charged with examining the Stuxnet computer virus, which has reportedly infected Iranian nuclear infrastructure, have found that one of its files was named 'Myrtus', a moniker used to refer to Esther in the biblical book by her name.


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A New York Times report published Thursday says another biblical clue found in the virus's code was the word 'guava', a fruit belonging to the Myrtus family. The report names as its source Ralph Langner, a German computer security consultant and the first to devise that the worm was a pointed cyber attack.


The word 'Myrtus' is most simply used as a name for a family of fruit, also used for religious purposes during the Sukkot holiday, but some computer analysts see it as a biblical clue linking Israel to the attempt at breaking into Iran's nuclear technology.


However other analysts see the clue as a red herring intended at focusing suspicion on Israel and thus removing it from other possible culprits.


So far both Israel and the US, both immediate suspects in any attack on Tehran's nuclear program, have kept silent on the matter, and experts say the mystery may never be solved.


“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,” the Times quoted a former intelligence official as saying. “Whatever the origin and purpose of Stuxnet, it ramps up the psychological pressure.”


Though the virus has also infected China, India, and Indonesia, experts believe Iran was the main target. But the question of whether the file name is a sly play on words, a false clue, or simply a random selection of letters remains.



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