Stuxnet Increasingly Sounding Like A Movie Plot

from the made-for-hollywood dept

Like many people, I've been following the story of the Stuxnet worm with great interest. As you probably know, this worm was apparently designed to infect Iranian nuclear operations to create problems -- and supposedly setting back their nuclear operations quite a bit. The NY Times came out with a fascinating investigative report about the background of Stuxnet over the weekend, and it's worth a read. What I found most entertaining was the rather Hollywood-trickery angle by which Stuxnet did its dirty work:
The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iranís nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.
That latter part is, indeed, right out of a movie. I guess sometimes truth does mimic fiction. That said, I'm still trying to figure out how or why Iran allowed any sort of outside code or computers into their nuclear operations.

Filed Under: iran, stuxnet


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2011 @ 4:30pm

    How Outside Code Gets In

    Allow me to hazard an answer to that question:

    Software (and configuration) updates are usually delivered to the system (which IS isolated from the Internet) via USB key. But, the systems used to prepare those updates ARE connected to the internet, if only so they can receive emails from the vendor or from the programmers working 10 miles down the road from the plant.

    The NSA may be able to go so far as to have a complete air-gap between 'net connected systems and isolated systems, with absolutely nothing even like a USB key ever crossing between them. But most systems aren't like that, even if nuclear.

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