19790509: The mysterious number inside the Stuxnet worm

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

The infamous Stuxnet worm continues to capture the imagination of the general public, with theories that it was written to target nuclear plants inside Iran.

One of the so-called clues that is frequently rolled out in articles about Stuxnet is the mysterious string of characters that the worm leaves inside the Registry on infected Windows computers:

19790509

Most commentators have decided to read this as a date – namely, 9th of May, 1979.

Clearly the date isn’t being used by the worm as a trigger for a payload, as it’s over thirty years ago in the past. Instead, it’s used by the Stuxnet malware to tell whether it has already infected a computer.

It feels like everyone is focusing on the fact that a Jewish Iranian businessman, Habib Elghanian, was executed by a firing squad in Tehran on May 9 1979, and like to link it with the marker inside the Stuxnet worm.

But should we be a little more cautious and look for something more than…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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