Symantech has warned of a new highly sophisticated computer worm which has the same characteristics of the Stuxnet virus which attacked Iran’s nuclear programme. The virus has has been discovered targeting various companies in Europe.

Computer security experts say its code and binary is so similar to the Stuxnet worm so the authors might have had access to the original code of Stuxnet. Iran accused US of authoring the Stuxnet virus to target its nuclear network.

The new threat has been named Duqu [dyü-kyü] and may have been engineered by the same people who created Stuxnet. The virus appears to have been spying on the systems it infiltrates and not vandalising them.

The new virus was discovered by Symantec. The security firm recetly released 2011 Symantec State of Security Report

Symantec would not disclose which firms had been targeted, but it said one of its customers raised the alarm on Friday. An internal system at the firm “raised a number of red flags” and an investigation was launched.

According to the New York Times, Symantec launched its inquiry after being contacted by a “research lab with strong international connections”.

A Symantec’s analyst, Vikram Thakur, told NYT : “This is extremely sophisticated, this is cutting edge.”