STUXNET Computer Worm a Threat to All Industrial Nations

Posted on October 2, 2010

Iran is convinced the western powers came up with the computer virus or worm that has taken down one of its nuclear facilities.  But internet security software firm Norton has another explanation:

The destructive Stuxnet worm surprised experts because it is the first one specifically created to take over industrial control systems, like those at power plants, rather than just steal or manipulate data.

The internet security firm Symantec Corp says the computer worm was likely spawned by a government or a well-funded private group.

It was apparently constructed by a small team of as many as five to 10 highly-educated and well-funded hackers, Symantec said.  [al Jazeera]

According to the Washington Post,

The discovery of Stuxnet, which some analysts have called the “malware of the century” because of its ability to damage or possibly destroy sensitive control systems, has served as a wake-up call to industry officials. Even though the worm has not yet been found in control systems in the United States, it could be only a matter of time before similar threats show up here.

“Quite honestly you’ve got a blueprint now,” said Michael J. Assante, former chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, an industry body that sets standards to ensure the electricity supply. “A copycat may decide to emulate it, maybe to cause a pressure valve to open or close at the wrong time. You could cause damage, and the damage could be catastrophic.”

Joe Weiss, an industrial control system security specialist and managing partner at Applied Control Solutions in Cupertino, Calif., said “the really scary part” about Stuxnet is its ability to determine what “physical process it wants to blow up.” Said Weiss: “What this is is essentially a cyber weapon.”

Researchers still do not know who created Stuxnet or why. [continue reading here]

Then there is the SamHenry theory of malware:  The most cyber attacks have been coming at us from China.  China has close ties with Iran.  What nation would be better positioned to use  cyberwarfare techniques and its knowledge of Iran’s nuclear facilities to formulate the Stuxnet worm?