'Israel used virus to spy on hotels which hosted Iran nuclear talks'

Duqu virus may have allowed theft of computer files, eavesdropping on rooms, reports Wall Street Journal.

June 10, 2015 16:00
1 minute read.
Cyber hackers [illustrative]

Cyber hackers [illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – A cybersecurity firm has identified breaches in its software at three luxury Swiss hotels from a virus considered a hallmark of Israeli intelligence operations. The three hotels hosted the Iran nuclear talks.

Kaspersky Lab ZAO discovered the virus at the three hotels where world powers and Iran held negotiations over its nuclear program in the past year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

According to its report of the investigation, Kaspersky crosschecked thousands of hotels in search of similar breaches and found only three. The firm declined to name the hotels, but the negotiations have been held in just six hotels in Switzerland and Austria since the diplomatic effort first began.

Kaspersky has concluded that the perpetrator was a sophisticated virus known as Duqu, which allows its handlers to monitor activity, steal computer, files and eavesdrop on the rooms in which computers are operating.

The company also reported that the front desks of the hotels had also been hacked, which the Journal said would allow the hackers to identify the room numbers of specific delegates and ministers.

Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Foreign Ministry would comment on the report.

US officials publicly accused Israel of spying on the talks back in 2014 and have repeated those allegations on multiple occasions since. Israel’s intelligence effort, they say, began in 2012, when the Obama administration first opened a covert channel with Tehran.

Addressing the annual Herzliya Conference this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented Israel’s absence at the negotiating table, given the impact a deal would have on the Jewish state.

“No one from this region, except Iran, is at the negotiating table,” Netanyahu said. “Somebody once said: ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ The states with the most at stake are not even in the room.”

Two years of negotiations among the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran produced a political framework agreement in April at the Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne.

Diplomats hope to conclude the talks with a final, comprehensive agreement See BANS, Page 10 sealed by June 30.

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