Iran spokeswoman says it concerned by cybersecurity report

AP News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2015 6:50 AM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is concerned by a Russian cybersecurity firm's report suggesting a new family of malicious programs and worms is infecting computers there and elsewhere in the world, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Without naming the United States as the source of the malware, the report by Kaspersky Lab said one of the programs has elements in common with the so-called Stuxnet worm, which the New York Times and Washington Post have said was developed by the U.S. and Israeli governments to disrupt Iranian nuclear facilities.

Speaking to journalists, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham suggested countries affected should talk about fighting the malware.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran pays great attention to this matter because we are one of the targets of (cyber) espionage," she said.

A news website for the country's parliament quoted Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani, the head of parliamentary committee on internal security, as saying the U.S. has entered in to cyber war to prove its power.

"They collect information from every possible area," he said.

Iran in the past has accused the U.S. and Israel of directing a campaign against its nuclear program that included the abduction of its scientists, sale of faulty equipment and planting Stuxnet, which briefly brought Iran's uranium enrichment activity to a halt in 2010.

In its report, Kaspersky described the malware as extremely sophisticated and "expensive to develop." U.S. National Security Agency spokeswoman Vanee Vines declined comment on the report Tuesday, but cited a 2014 presidential directive that instructed U.S. intelligence agencies to respect Americans' privacy while continuing to conduct overseas operations necessary to guard against terrorism or other threats.

Kaspersky researchers said some of the spyware difficult to detect and virtually impossible to remove, and it could gain access to vital codes, such as the keys to deciphering encrypted files.

Kaspersky said it found signs the malware infected computers in more than 30 countries, with the heaviest concentrations in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.

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Associated Press writer Brandon Bailey in San Francisco contributed to this report.