Hackers blasted AC/DC through Iranian computers as they disabled nuclear power plant

Report suggests 'Thunderstruck' was played through scientists' workstations as the US-Israeli computer worm Stuxnet attacked Iran's nuclear facilities

James Vincent
Thursday 07 August 2014 13:54 BST

Stuxnet is without a doubt the granddaddy of nation-state viruses. In 2010, US and Israeli coders (reportedly) unleashed the computer worm on Iranian nuclear facilities, sending their centrifuges into overdrive and spoiling the nuclear material they were working on.

For this sort of a Mission Impossible-level hack you’d think you'd need a suitable soundtrack. Apparently the government-sponsored hackers thought the same, and reportedly chose to blast ACDC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ at full volume through Iranian computers as they set the country’s nuclear program back years.

Although Stuxnet itself was discovered way back in June 2010, this detail only emerged this week at the Black Hat hackers’ conference in Las Vegas. Security legend Mikko Hypponen told the story, revealing that he’d received an email from a confused Iranian computer scientist who was witness to the attack.

As VentureBeat reports, the email Hypponen received read: “There was also some music playing randomly on several of the workstations during the middle of the night with the volume maxed out. I believe it was the American band AC-DC Thunderstruck. It was all very strange and happened very quickly. The attackers also managed to gain root access to the machine they entered from and removed all the logs.”

Labelling the band ‘AC-DC Thunderstruck’ might seem a bit strange, but as The Verge points out, the mistake is hardly surprising in a country where all rock music (including AC/DC) is banned.

Hypponen added later that he can’t confirm the truth of the story. “Maybe it’s mind games, or maybe it never happened,” he wrote in a blog post, adding “If your computer plays AC/DC, you know that something’s going on, and your own IT department looks stupid, because they can’t stop it.”

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