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NYT on the Stuxnet virus 17, January 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran.
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There is an excellent piece of ‘traditional’ investigative journalism in the New York Times. It is a lengthy article, researched over many months and continents, analysing the Stuxnet computer virus that appeared to be targeting Iran’s nuclear enrichment industry.

When the story broke 6 months ago, little was known about the virus. Its aims were not clear neither were its targets or its authors. Like many others, however, given its prevalence in Iran and how the virus appeared to work in certain Siemens systems closely associated ywith Iran’s nuclear industry, I assumed that it was the first clear sign of international cyber-warfare conducted by America and possibly Israel against Iran.

The NYT confirms that this is the case.

The virus was incredibly subtle. It was seemingly designed only to ‘go to work’ when a series of very specific variables were met. Then it apparently ‘recorded’ the ordinary spinning of a Uranium enriching centrifuge and replayed these data back to the controlling stations so that all would appear normal while actually speeding up the spinning process, thus physically destroying the centrifuges. This is their best guess, at least.

Yet, while not wholly successful it does appear to have set back Iran’s quest for a bomb several years, as recently announced by Secretary of State Clinton and the outgoing head of the Mossad.

Stuxnet virus attacks Iran 23, September 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran.
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The BBC reports that ‘high value’ infrastructure in Iran has been targeted by one of the most sophisticated computer viruses ever created.  ‘Stuxnet’ is designed to infiltrate systems via-USB keys. Then it searches the internal system for preset industrial control software made by Siemens where it can – theoretically – give the system new commands relating to, say, the temperature of a power plant. Siemens, however, maintains that they have had no such involvement in Iran for 30 years.

Though it has been found across the world, the concentration of Stuxnet in Iran along with the staggering complexity of the virus has led some experts to maintain that it must have been made by a nation state.

The inference in the article is clear; that America is waging a technological battle of sorts in Iran. This make a change from the typical storylines of this genre which tell of Chinese hackers repeatedly attacking Western government and private companies to steal secrets. The Chinese threat reached such proportions that Mi5, Britain’s domestic security service, issues stark warnings to the Government and Private Companies about China’s potential capabilities.