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, 19 Jan 2011 @ 5:40am

    Re: Fascinating story, but ...

    Everyone did keep their mouth shut and the program seems to have worked for just over a year. The Iranians knew something was wrong, they just didn't know what. A third party contractor assisting them with the centrifuges found the problem and eventually discovered it was caused by a virus.

    Also, the damage isn't over yet. Current estimates are that it will take over a year to completely remove the program from the facility. In addition to that, two professors working at the facility were recently killed in car bombings and there is speculation that they were the two people leading the effort to remove the worm, although there has been no confirmation of this.

    It is possible that Stuxnet was really designed only to buy time, either for political action or to give developers time to develop a more sophisticated and more damaging virus. Some have speculated that Stuxnet was probably a test of the nuclear plants defenses and data gathered by the worm will be used in some other operation.

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