James Bond, step aside. You’ve been punked by Stuxnet. Stuxnet is the computer malware that has been wreaking havoc around the globe. It is an extremely sophisticated, state sponsored cyber-warfare weapon. It is well beyond the scope of traditional hackers. It takes a well-funded, well-connected organization to pull something like this off. Stuxnet is not the norm. Usually, viruses and malware that make news headlines are over-hyped. This one is the opposite.
I’ll link to a place where you can read the details of Stuxnet if your interested later in this post. Suffice it to say, it’s very techno-geeky stuff. The bottom line is it worked and was, and still is, a significant setback to the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. As far as who was behind it, no one yet knows for sure. It has been speculated that it was a byproduct of the cyber war between China and India. Others say it carries the signature of Israel. And beyond that, it was the CIA that started it all using Israel as a state sponsored terrorist.
This would explain one thing. Many wonder why the U.S. has sat on its hands while Iran continues to near completion of obtaining a nuclear weapon despite dire warnings from around the globe. Perhaps the U.S. did develop the Stuxnet malware and utilize the Israeli’s to execute it. They would have known this was going to buy them significant time due to the setbacks in store for the Iranians. Ehud Barak of Israel has gone on record in June of 2009 as stating that we only had a window of 6-18 months in which to stop the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. After that, there would be unacceptable collateral damage from an attack on Iran. Well, next month is the outside of that window. Perhaps, he gave such a wide window based on the knowledge that the Stuxnet malware operation was underway with an unknown execution date.
Now the genie is out of the bottle. News of the malware is everywhere and the Iranians are attempting to remove it from their nuclear computer systems. This process is reported to take up to a year to accomplish. So, maybe December of 2010 is not the edge of the window after all. Regardless, one could also speculate that something likely must happen with Iran next year unless more cyber warfare attacks are executed.
This will go down in history as the first successful attack of its kind. A cyber attack that resulted in actual physical damage to a military system. Of course, this type of warfare goes on everyday behind the scenes. States are always attempting to get an edge on their opposition. It’s just not very often that it gets played out in the public realm like this one has. What is certain is that this will become more and more prevalent as time goes on. The ability to conduct a military operation without firing a shot has immeasurable appeal to governments.
Here is a link in which you can get some background – http://www.invincea.com/blog/2010/10/defending-against-stuxnet-type-threats/