Stuxnet pinned for killing Indian satellite

By Liam Tung on Oct 1, 2010 8:23 AM
Filed under Security

China-India space race.

As speculation mounted that Israel's military created the Siemens-targeting Stuxnet worm, a US security researcher claimed to have evidence it was also responsible for destroying an Indian broadcasting satellite.

"There are more and better theories to explain Stuxnet's motivation than just Israel and Iran, as others have posited," Jeffrey Carr, author of "Inside Cyber Warfare" and Forbes‘ The Firewall blog wrote.

While Stuxnet had found its way into Iran's first nuclear power plant, Carr said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - which used the vulnerable Siemens devices - had also fallen victim to Stuxnet.

Carr suggested that China was behind the attack.

On 9 July, half the transponders on India's three-year old INSAT-4B satellite shut down unexpectedly due to a solar panel failure.

According Carr's research, which he will present at the Abu Dhabi Black Hat conference in November, two staff at ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre confirmed it used Siemens S7-400 PLC and SIMATIC WinCC which allegedly "will activate the Stuxnet worm".

Siemen's PLC is a Programmable Logic Controller, which allows industrial control systems to be programmed from a Windows machine, according to Symantec researcher Nicolas Falliere.

The Indian Space Research Organisation attempted to resolve the power problem, but announced last week the satellite was kaputt and would be replaced with GSAT 5 by December, according to The Economic Times.

"China and India are competing with each other to see who will be the first to land another astronaut on the Moon.

"China has announced a date of 2025 while India is claiming 2020," said Carr.

 
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