Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions

Watching an action movie or a TV show that uses technology usually makes me laugh at some of the stuff they pull off with their computers. You know that it really isn't that easy to do things in the real world.

And in a similar vein, there are those who like to read conspiracy elements into almost everything that happens that seems a bit out of the ordinary. The rapid rise of the intelligence of the Internet has given a legitimacy to many of those claims, even if they usually are ridiculous.

But now we have Stuxnet. This is an amazing and fascinating (and worrying) story about how someone created a virus specifically designed to infiltrate and disrupt Iran's nuclear program. It worked amazingly well, and it's only a fluke that the world ever found out about it.

We're entering a whole new era - for better or worse. Just what's ahead is anybody's guess.
In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.

The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.

But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.

Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.

Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.
Link to the original story

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