Swiss authorities investigate cyber-attack during nuclear talks

News by Doug Drinkwater

Swiss authorities searched a house in Geneva back in May, seizing computer equipment which may have been used in a possible cyber-attack on the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major powers in the city, according to Switzerland's attorney general.

"On 12 May, 2015, a house search took place in Geneva and IT hardware as well as software was seized. The aim of the aforementioned house search was to seize respective information as well as the malware," said the Swiss attorney-general's office in Berne yesterday.

"It was of particular interest to investigate whether the malware infected the respective IT systems."

Austria is also investigating the case, which came to light after Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday that a new variant of the Duqu computer virus had been used to hack into several companies, including Kaspersky Lab's own network. Furthermore, the virus – believed to be the work of the Israeli government, although it has already denied such claims, was also said to have been used to hack into three luxury hotels that hosted negotiations between Iran and six world powers.

Criminal proceedings have been opened against unknown persons on “suspicions of political espionage”. Law enforcement agencies are believed to suspect the involvement of a foreign intelligence service.

Meanwhile, in Vienna – where Iran's nuclear discussion also took place, an Interior Ministry spokesman told press that the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-terrorism was aware of the information about the suspected attack, and was reviewing it. Other talks were held in Lausanne, Montreux and Munich.

"You know that there are enemies of these talks and they will do whatever they can, so it's not a surprise to us," Reza Najafi, Iran's ambassador to the UN nuclear agency, told reporters in Vienna.

"We continue to take precautionary measures not to let any details of the discussion go to the public," he added on the sidelines of an International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting.

"I should say we have been successful in that regard ... Of course there are some cases, which are just incidents."

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