(Reuters) - A cyber warfare expert claims he has linked the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked Iran's nuclear program in 2010 to Conficker, a mysterious "worm" that surfaced in late 2008 and infected millions of PCs.
Conficker was used to open back doors into computers in Iran, then infect them with Stuxnet, according to research from John Bumgarner, a retired U.S. Army special-operations veteran and former intelligence officer.
"Conficker was a door kicker," said Bumgarner, chief technology officer for the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, a non-profit group that studies the impact of cyber threats. "It built out an elaborate smoke screen around the whole world to mask the real operation, which was to deliver Stuxnet."
While it is widely believed that the United States and Israel were behind Stuxnet, Bumgarner wouldn't comment on whether he believes the Americans and Israelis also unleashed Conficker, one of the most virulent pieces of so-called malware ever detected. He wouldn't name the attackers he believes were behind the two programs, saying the matter was too sensitive to discuss.
The White House and the FBI declined to comment.
The view that Stuxnet was built by the United States and Israel was laid out in a January 2011 New York Times report that said it came from a joint program begun around 2004 to undermine Iran's efforts to build a bomb. That article said the program was originally authorized by U.S. President George W. Bush, and then accelerated by his successor, Barack Obama.
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