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Hackers made Iran's nuclear computers blast AC/DC

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Baffled scientist says 'Thunderstruck' played in the middle of the night

AC/DC

Between 2009 and 2010, Iran's nuclear program was the target of a devastating cyber attack. A virus, reportedly developed by the American and Israeli governments and known as Stuxnet, took control of centrifuge controls in facilities across the country, causing thousands of machines to break. But apparently the attackers weren't content with just crippling the country's nuclear efforts — they wanted to show their control in another way. To do that, they reportedly hijacked the facilities' workstations and used them to play AC/DC.

And they played it loud. Speaking at the Black Hat security conference, Finnish computer security expert Mikko Hypponen recalled an email he received from an Iranian scientist at the time of the Stuxnet attacks. VentureBeat quotes from the correspondence.

"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."

Of course, "Thunderstruck" is a song from 1990 album Razor's Edge, not a suffix to the Australian band's name, but the scientist can be forgiven for getting it wrong. Under the country's censorship laws, only Iranian folk, classical, or pop music are acceptable. Since the Stuxnet attack, President Obama has reportedly warned against using cyber weapons to target other countries, for fear their source code could be repurposed and turned back on the United States. As yet, the president hasn't commented on the dangers of deploying AC/DC.