Stuxnet virus infected the International Space Station

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
Font Size:

The infamous computer virus, Stuxnet, has found its way onto the International Space Station, thanks to unwitting Russian cosmonauts.

Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of the computer security research company Kapersky Labs, told an audience at the National Press Club of Australia last week Thursday that Russian cosmonauts carried a USB stick infected with the virus onto the space station.

“The space guys from time-to-time are coming with USBs, which are infected,” said Kaspersky.

“I’m not kidding,” he said, “I was talking to Russian space guys and they said, ‘Yeah, from time-to-time there are viruses on the space station.”

“Kaspersky doesn’t give any details about when the infection he was told about took place,” reports International Business Times, “but it appears as if it was prior to May of this year when the United Space Alliance, the group which oversees the operation of the ISS, moved all systems entirely to Linux to make them more “stable and reliable.”

Kaspersky Labs has been tracking the virus — suspected of being developed by the U.S. and Israeli governments — since it was first discovered in 2010.

Stuxnet first became known for sabotaging centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility used for uranium enrichment. The virus infects Siemens industrial control systems, and spreads via Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Since it spread into the wild, however, the code has been available for security researchers, nation-states, and organized crime to study and exploit.

Kaspersky also announced that the virus infected the systems of a Russian nuclear plant not connected to the Internet, implying that it was also infected via USB.

Wired published a profile of Kaspersky in Jul. 2012, accusing him of deep ties to the KGB and its successor, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) — a claim Kaspersky denied.

A previous version misspelled Kaspersky. This article has been updated to correct the error.

Follow Josh on Twitter and Facebook