Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sheer Genius

There's more here on the fascinating story of the Stuxnet virus that infected the computers which run the centrifuges in the Iranian nuclear weapons program. It seems that the people who wrote the code for this cyber weapon thought of just about everything. They must be geniuses which is more than a little scary because there's no reason to think that such a weapon could not be used against us as easily as against the Iranians.

It's not hard to imagine an enemy shutting down our electrical grid, our air traffic control system, our financial system, or our military communications systems with just such a tool. It could be catastrophic, and we wouldn't even know who did it.

Here's an excerpt from the article:
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.

The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.

When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions.

And finally, after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy itself without leaving a trace.

That is what we are learning happened at Iran's nuclear facilities -- both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran's nuclear power plant.
Check out the article at the link.