Israeli-linked spyware targeted Iran nuclear talks

Published 11.06.2015 23:41

A computer virus connected to Israel targeted three hotels that hosted high-level diplomatic talks between the United States, Iran and world powers, according to a new report from cybersecurity experts released Wednesday.

The virus in question is known as Duqu and was first identified in 2011. Many U.S. officials and tech experts believe the bug was created by the Israel government for highly sensitive cyber-espionage.

An Israeli deputy minister dismissed the allegations as baseless on Thursday saying that Israel may have had a connection to a computer virus that a security company said was used to hack into venues linked to international talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Russia-based Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday it found the spyware in three European hotels that hosted negotiations involving Iran and six world powers and also on the company's own computers.

Both Kaspersky and U.S. security company Symantec said the virus shared some programming with previously discovered espionage software called Duqu, which security experts believe to have been developed by Israelis.

Israeli government officials had declined to comment, but on Thursday Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely denied Israel was involved. "The international reports of Israeli involvement in the matter are baseless," she told Army Radio.

"What is much more important is that we prevent a bad agreement where at the end of the day we find ourselves with a Iranian nuclear umbrella," she said.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has denounced the diplomatic opening to Iran, saying it doubts any agreement arising from the talks will sufficiently restrain the atomic program of its arch-enemy. The West suspects Iran wants to develop a nuclear weapons capability from its enrichment of uranium. Iran says it is seeking nuclear energy for electricity and medical isotopes.

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