Retired US General James Cartwright is the target of a Justice Department investigation into the leaking of secret information about the Stuxnet virus attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010, a report says.

Citing unidentified legal sources, NBC News reported on Thursday that Cartwright, once the second highest ranking officer in the US military, is being probed over the leaked information about the computer virus operations.

The New York Times published a detailed account of the Stuxnet program in June last year, in which it said President Barack Obama had decided to accelerate US cyber attacks, which began under former President George W. Bush.

The story was based on 18 months of interviews with " with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts, " the Times said in its story.

Cartwright, a four - star general, was responsible for overseeing and running military cyber operations from 2007 to 2011.

Stuxnet, first identified 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.

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.