First came Stuxnet computer virus: now there’s Duqu

First there was the Stuxnet computer virus that wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear program. Now comes “Duqu,” which researchers on Tuesday said appears to be quite similar.

Security software firm Symantec said in a report it was alerted by a research lab with international connections on Friday to a malicious code that “appeared to be very similar to Stuxnet.” It was named Duqu because it creates files with “DQ” in the prefix.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was aware of the reports and was taking action.

“DHS’ Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team has issued a public alert and will continue working with the cybersecurity research community to gather and analyze data and disseminate further information to our critical infrastructure partners as it becomes available,” a DHS official said.

Symantec said samples recovered from computer systems in Europe and a detailed report from the unnamed research lab confirmed the new threat was similar to Stuxnet.

“Parts of Duqu are nearly identical to Stuxnet, but with a completely different purpose,” Symantec said. “Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack.”

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