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Stuxnet: World's first weaponized software?

 
 
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 05:12 pm
Quote:
Stuxnet malware is 'weapon' out to destroy ... Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant?
The Stuxnet malware has infiltrated industrial computer systems worldwide. Now, cyber security sleuths say it's a search-and-destroy weapon meant to hit a single target. One expert suggests it may be after Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.

By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 21, 2010

Cyber security experts say they have identified the world's first known cyber super weapon designed specifically to destroy a real-world target – a factory, a refinery, or just maybe a nuclear power plant.


For the rest of this article:
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0921/Stuxnet-malware-is-weapon-out-to-destroy-Iran-s-Bushehr-nuclear-plant

The context of stuxnet's discovery:
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0723/Stuxnet-spyware-targets-industrial-facilities-via-USB-memory-stick

What are the odds that this work of cybercraft is an Israeli or CIA product? For hypothetical art argument's sake, how would you feel if this was an offensive move against Iran's nuclear weapons program by either the Israeli intelligence community, the CIA, or some vigilante third party organization?

How would your thinking of this new cyberweapon be changed if Stuxnet's target wasn't Iran nuclear power plant but some hard target in the Western world where the likelihood of collateral or civilian casualties could be its raison d'etre? Do these beliefs conflict with each other or do they compliment each other?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 3,206 • Replies: 24
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 05:18 pm
Shocked , ah'll be bach Razz

In the Terminator series, Skynet is the main antagonist — an artificially intelligent system which became self-aware and revolted against its creators. Skynet is rarely seen onscreen and its actions are often performed via other robots and computer systems; usually a Terminator.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 05:47 pm
@djjd62,
I'm certain the people who created Skynet had the nicest of intentions when they flipped the on switch on for the first time.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 06:06 pm
Ethics aside, the idea that you can build such a software weapon is pretty cool. This has nothing to do with "Skynet", where a system develops an intelligence of its own.

This is more like a very well designed missile that that has advanced counter-countermeasures built in to anticipate any defenses. They are building on top of known techniques, this is state of the art stuff.




tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 06:18 pm
@maxdancona,
Now the crux of the story is who has their finger on the red button of this well designed cyber missile.
Irishk
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 07:42 pm
@tsarstepan,
Here's another article that also mentions Israel.

Was Stuxnet Built to Attack Iran's Nuclear Program?

Quote:
Last year, rumors began surfacing that Israel might be contemplating a cyber attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.


And then there's this stunning paragraph:

Quote:
One of the things that Langner discovered is that when Stuxnet finally identifies its target, it makes changes to a piece of Siemens code called Organizational Block 35. This Siemens component monitors critical factory operations -- things that need a response within 100 milliseconds. By messing with Operational Block 35, Stuxnet could easily cause a refinery's centrifuge to malfunction, but it could be used to hit other targets too, Byres said. "The only thing I can say is that it is something designed to go bang," he said.

tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 07:57 pm
@Irishk,
Thanks for the great article link Irishk.
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Sep, 2010 08:02 pm
@tsarstepan,
You're welcome. Interesting times, no?
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Sep, 2010 06:24 pm
A German engineer/tech blogger (1.) has done some research on the possible effectiveness of this "cyber guided missile" (2.) on the centrifuges in one Iranian nuclear processing plant in Natanz.

Then we have this Israeli news article (3.) on the active Israeli cyberwar program and its explicit intent to disarm Iran's nuclear ambitions.

I wonder if this is the first open acknowledgment of a very active global Digital Cold War?

1. http://frank.geekheim.de/?p=1189;
2. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0924/Stuxnet-worm-mystery-What-s-the-cyber-weapon-after;
3. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3742960,00.html
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  2  
Reply Sun 26 Sep, 2010 10:51 am
Iran confirms massive Stuxnet infection of industrial systems

Of course Iran denies it will affect or delay the opening of their Bushehr nuclear plant...which was supposed to go online at the end of August...but was delayed for some reason...hmmm.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Sep, 2010 01:02 pm
@Irishk,
What's next in this inevitable cyber arms race?
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 09:57 am
@tsarstepan,
I'm thinking it would make a great movie! George Clooney would the the lead (of course)...but we'll need a supporting actor and a female lead for dramatic interest! Ideas?

Meanwhile, WaPo reports the continuing challenges for Iran...

Iran struggling to contain 'foreign-made' Stuxnet computer virus

Excerpt:
Quote:
"We had anticipated that we could root out the virus within one to two months," Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran's Information Technology Co., a part of the ministry of communication and information technology, told the Islamic Republic News Agency. "But the virus is not stable, and since we started the cleanup process three new versions of it have been spreading," he said.

Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 10:37 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Ethics aside. . .


In a situation such as this, that's impossible.

The cyber-revolution has led to a formulation of an entirely new code of ethics.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:05 am
@Irishk,
I'm partial to Laura Linney as the female lead ... and how about Casey Affleck for the supporting actor?
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:13 am
@Merry Andrew,
The cyber age will need a new ethics department all by it's lonesome self. Countries like Russia and China see the spread of democracy over the internet as an ideological weapon.

Quote:
Each year since 1998, Russia has introduced a resolution at the United Nations calling for an international agreement to combat what it calls "information terrorism." Russian leaders worry that the Internet makes it so easy for people to communicate that a government could use the Internet to challenge another country's political system. Some Russian diplomats have actually revived an old Soviet term — "ideological aggression" — to describe what governments could do to each other via the Internet.

At a U.N. disarmament conference in 2008, Sergei Korotkov of the Russian Defense Ministry argued that anytime a government promotes ideas on the Internet with the goal of subverting another country's government — even in the name of democratic reform — it should qualify as "aggression." And that, in turn, would make it illegal under the U.N. Charter.

"Practically any information operation conducted by a state or a number of states against another state would be qualified as an interference into internal affairs," Korotkov said through an interpreter. So any good cause, like [the] promotion of democracy, cannot be used as a justification for such actions."


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130052701
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Sep, 2010 08:56 am
@tsarstepan,
The plot thickens! Might want to include Ayelet Zurer in the supporting cast...

In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue


Quote:
...There are many competing explanations for myrtus, which could simply signify myrtle, a plant important to many cultures in the region. But some security experts see the reference as a signature allusion to Esther, a clear warning in a mounting technological and psychological battle as Israel and its allies try to breach Tehran’s most heavily guarded project. Others doubt the Israelis were involved and say the word could have been inserted as deliberate misinformation, to implicate Israel.

“...The Iranians are already paranoid about the fact that some of their scientists have defected and several of their secret nuclear sites have been revealed,” one former intelligence official who still works on Iran issues said recently. “Whatever the origin and purpose of Stuxnet, it ramps up the psychological pressure.”



0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 15 Jan, 2011 11:57 pm
Great updated article in the NY Times!
Israel Tests on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay
By WILLIAM J. BROAD, JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: January 15, 2011


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html?ref=todayspaper

Includes this great graph on the spread of the worm:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html?ref=todayspaper
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2011 12:53 am
I am assuming that the Americans and Israelis did this, and I have serious problems with the morality of it. Unless it was known that the cyber warfare could not cause a nuclear release that would kill civilians this is a war crime if such a thing takes place. Also, any act of aggression against assets of another state without a declaration of war is troublesome.
0 Replies
 
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2011 11:15 am
Interesting article with a lot of theory and conjecture; little hard evidence. Coulda been the Chinese for all we know.
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2011 11:32 am
@Irishk,
Other security experts (not listed in this articles) have blogged already as they have had the chance to reverse engineer the worm. From what they seen it looks like the work of Israeli intelligence.

I'd say the Chinese wouldn't want to hurt the Iranians as the Iranian government is a government market for Chinese weapons sales.
 

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