A former CIA chief has praised the US use of Stuxnet virus to sabotage Iran’s nuclear energy program, noting that the measure legitimized using malware as a weapon to cause destruction.
"We have entered into a new phase of conflict in which we use a cyber weapon to create physical destruction," said Michael Hayden, former director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in an interview with CBS television to be broadcast on Sunday.
"This was a good idea, alright?" he added.
The retired US general went on to say that the attempt to disrupt Iran's nuclear energy program by Stuxnet has given legitimacy to the use of malicious software as a new type of warfare.
"But I also admit this was a big idea, too," Hayden said, adding, "The rest of the world is looking at this and saying 'Clearly, someone has legitimated this kind of activity as acceptable.'”
The Stuxnet worm, first indentified by Iranian officials in June 2010, is a malware designed to infect computers using Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) -- a control system favored by industries that manage water supplies, oil rigs, and power plants.
In July 2010, media reports claimed that Stuxnet had targeted industrial computers around the globe, with Iran being the main target of the attack. They said the country's Bushehr nuclear power plant was at the center of the cyber attack.
US and Israeli officials later claimed that the computer virus had dealt a blow to Iran's nuclear energy program.
Iranian officials, however, rejected such claims, saying that Stuxnet was detected quickly by Iranian experts and caused no serious damage to the country's industrial sites.