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Computer Worm Stuxnet Hits Nuclear Plant in Iran

Updated on July 18, 2015

Aimed at a Specific Facility in Iran?

One Possible target: Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Reactor - Controlled by Siemen's System.... Opening delayed. Possible target: Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz...
One Possible target: Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Reactor - Controlled by Siemen's System.... Opening delayed. Possible target: Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz...

Cyber Attacks: Multiple Government Involvement

More than 100 countries are currently trying to break into U.S. networks. We are not "ready." The Pentagon's Cyber Command is planned to be operational in October, 2010. The rest of the U.S. government is mired in bureaucratic defining varied responsibilities of different agencies, cyber security is "not prepared," nor coordinated... While "Rome burns," and the generals play politics to align with Obama, who claims, "We are staffing up" while we are probed thousands of times each day.

The U.S. and the Israelis are the best in the world at hacking other country's computer systems. However, the U.S. does not have the best defenses. The Internet is abuzz about the virus Stuxnet, a worm that attacks industrial-control systems. The Stuxnet worm is described as a "cyber-missile," designed to seek out and destroy specified targets. Its unusual sophistication hints of a well-financed nation, rather than a group of rogue hackers trying to steal industrial secrets or to cause problems.

Per the Wall Street Journal, September 25th edition, "Stuxnet alarmed officials both in the Pentagon and the U.S. industry, because it targeted the core of industrial computer-control systems." The Stuxnet is by-passing the computer "nervous system," and going right to the computer "brains." Stuxnet targets a specific Siemens (German industrial giant) software, called WinCC, which runs on Microsoft windows. Stuxnet gets around firewalls and having isolated computer networks not connected to the Internet by USB memory sticks, or key drives. When an infected memory stick is plugged into a computer, the Stuxnet software checks to see if WinCC is running. If it is, it logs on and installs a backdoor control system and contacts a server in Malaysia for instructions. If the computer cannot find a copy of WinCC, it looks for other USB devices and copies itself onto them. It then is spread across local networks via shared folders and print spoolers.

WinCC is a reasonably obscure "supervisory control and data acquisition" (SCADA) management system. This would indicate the normal run of "hackers" would want to infect as many computers as possible using the more popular control systems and not have focused on the rare SCADA management system.

Stuxnet examines the systems it is running on and if specific characteristics are found, shuts down specific processes. This worm is honed to do very specific tasks. Stuxnet is a very expensive worm that uses the combination of two compromised security certificates that were stolen from compainies in Taiwan and uses Windows to launch automatically when a user tries to access the memory stick on which it is installed. One would think Stuxnet was designed to perform specific task for identified locations. Given Iran is the most infected, it is apparent it is the target. The Stuxnet worm requires comprehensive knowledge of a particular control systems. Given this, it appears to be softeare aimed a one specific facility.

The U.S. needs to TODAY, not tomorrow, realize our way-of-life and our world as we know it is at stake. We are a target! Again, quoting the Wall Street Journal September 25th, 2010 issue, General Keith Alexander, the chief of the new U.S. Cyber Command told a congressional panel this week: 'What concerns me the most is destructive attacks that are coming..." He went on to say, "The danger is that such attacks can do damage that is difficult to reverse and can't be fixed by blocking Internet traffic by destroying computers and other automated device connected to the Internet before the government or a company can respond."

An area in the U.S. that is very vulnerable is our infrastructure. Referring to the same article above in the Wall Street Journal where General Alexander stated, "...such attack could be mounted on the U.S electrical or banking sector, and the affected company would largely be on its own to defend itself."

Obama has not figured out a way to aid the response to an attack on the private sector. If there were an attack to day, there is no government authority that is authorized to respond to the threats...

We certainly cannot pen our hopes to the futile attempts by the U.N. working group, the U.S., China, Russia and other countries that are taking "steps" to devise ground rules for cyber crime and cyber warfare! If I get into a "fist-fight," I will fight to win, to "eliminate" my partner. I do no fight per Marquess of Queensberry rules (1867). Fighting, to me is not a sport. Warfare is not a "sport." There is only one rule: winning...



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    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Nellieanna, You were up late! Sociology mirrors psychology: Mankind is an animal. The good part is we have a superior intellect where we have a choice to design, create ideas, concepts or "things" to better our life - not destroy, or kill others...

      Our "warfare tools" have increasingly become truly capable of destroying life as we know it. Sometimes I reflect: are we like the lemmings who self-destruct by running over a cliff when their populations surge? Is our "warfare" in our DNA as a form of population control? It appears territorial disputes are the common denominator of past wars... When populations "surge," people self-destruct and eliminate others in the process... If there were no wars in our past, we could literally be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with "standing room" only with no way to provide food and shelter for ourselves.

      I am not advocating warfare. I am "thinking out loud..." When we can individually learn to get along with our neighbors and there are no jails, or prisons... warfare will be eliminated...

      Your basic question is "why?" Why warfare... Perhaps elements of the above are part of the "madness" of warfare...

      In the meantime, as we are complacent... our lives are at stake. What can we do? Treat others the way YOU want to be treated. Perhaps an analogy is to love others, you must first love yourself. Therefore to stop wars, stop fighting, stealing, and killing among ourselves... Perhaps "Peace" begins within...

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      It is too late and my mind is not up to really studying this hub, but after reading the one about the Stuxnet attack on Iran you just published, I want to know more about its background so I want to read and study this when I'm rested. But it does seem like we the people are in a beaker controlled by mad scientists and we in the beaker have no "say' about it, though it's a matter of life and death - ours.

      Knowledge IS power, for sure - but it's too uncertain even whether any known things are accurate and certainly they are incomplete as we would ever have access. In fact - what one person or group of persons, regardless of their intellect, access, power and interest - COULD ever have all the facts or even enough of them to form any sort of rational practical conclusion on which to act?

      Well, perhaps similar eras transpired during Greek and Roman times, etc. The common folk were in the dark and those in power wielded it but often they were so infighting among themselves and had such cross-currents of motivations and purposes that outcomes were iffy at best. Meanwhile it was wise for a PERSON to try to keep both sane and optimistic about his/her own life and that of loved ones. Planting and building rather than destroying. Loving and helping rather than destroying. Surviving and proliferating rather than destroying. Of course in every era those in power have one common practice - to employ the youth and innocent to risk their lives for whatever hair-brained project or war that they've cooked up. And the families of those at risk must cling to the party line in order to support their youngsters whose lives are not only at risk by whatever enemy they're sent to fight but also at risk should their own rulers withdraw support or decide to declare them unfit or traitors if they show any question about the purpose for which they're asked to risk their lives.

      It's hardly to be much different at the heart of it whether it's spears and maces, rifles and cannons, air and naval attacks, nuclear weapons, biological attacks, propaganda or cyber warfare. What a waste of creativity, intellect, talent, productivity, LIFE and living it all is. Yet it is prevalent eventuality at each and every moment and throughout each and every era in one form or another.

      We hear "when will we learn?" but I'd have to say - Learn what? Instinctively we KNOW the value of life and living - surviving. It's our most basic drive. The question is WHY? Why do we - they - all of us toss it away - and for what?

      Sigh - yes, I guess I am weary. Better shut up and get to sleep for awhile. It's lovely to sleep and be rested - but oh so hard to spend the time it takes to. LOL

      Yawn . . .

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      The "need to know" basis prevails. We will never know what is REALLY going on... Yet, our existence as we know it is at risk.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      we don't know! sharing...

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      It is almost scary: unsettling at best. The challenges are great and the public seems either unaware, or not concerned...

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting hub on cyber crime, dallas93444,the technology involved is mind-boggling