Monday, September 27, 2010

More on Stuxnet, its intended target and its potential genesis.

A video recommended by an IBCR reader. 


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In her email, the reader asks a very good question:

I just read your blog post on the Struxnet virus. I really enjoyed learning more about the background of this powerful worm. If the intended target was indeed Iran’s nuclear power plant, then should we view the bug as successful execution of cyber warfare? After all, the best way to stopping your enemies is by hindering their ability to wage war.

We may be asking if Iran’s nuclear facility was the worm’s intended target, but shouldn’t we also be asking who was responsible for creating a virus capable of potentially wiping a nation’s defense system?

Whoever developed this code had a big target in mind. 

Suggestions are that the Stuxnet worm came either from the U.S., or Israel, on the basis that the worm targets specific systems and utilizes specific weaknesses in the Windows operating system that your garden variety hacker probably wouldn’t have the resources to exploit. Iran has already been affected. However, this site suggests that Iran’s problems with Stuxnet have now passed, and that the worm has begun infecting systems elsewhere on the Asian continent.

What leads me away from this thing having an American genesis is the potential for collateral damage.  The intended target runs a software-and-hardware combination that is similar in plants around the world.  The sophistication of the development team necessitates that they would recognize this, and such risk-taking just doesn’t jive with my sense of this administration.  Your mileage may vary.

Stay tuned.  I don’t think this story is over by a long shot.  Somewhere in the world, a very dangerous facility is being run by a bunch of careless idiots.  Stuxnet is likely to find its way there, and the damage could be spectacular.

UPDATE: It looks like Iran is having more trouble with Stuxnet than the site suggests.