The former second ranking officer in the US military is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly revealing details of the Stuxnet computer virus, which targeted Iran’s nuclear energy facilities.
NBC News cited legal sources as saying that retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, 63, is being probed for allegedly leaking classified information about the covert Stuxnet operation.
Cartwright, a four-star general, was responsible for overseeing and running military cyber operations from 2007 to 2011.
Stuxnet, first indentified by the Iranian officials in June 2010, is a malware designed to infect computers using 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.
On June 1, 2012, The New York Times revealed that Stuxnet was part of a wave of sophisticated digital attacks codenamed “Olympic Games,” which US President Barack Obama had ordered against the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities.
The paper also confirmed that the Stuxnet virus was created with the help of a secret Israeli intelligence unit.
Iranian experts, however, detected the worm in time, averting any damage to the country’s industrial sites and resources.
In response to such attacks, Iran launched a cyber defense headquarters tasked with preventing computer worms from breaking into or stealing data from the country’s maximum security networks, including nuclear facilities, power plants, data centers, and banks.