Stuxnet Virus is an Example of Cyber Warfare

Sunday, November 28, 2010

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Months after the Stuxnet virus was detected, experts still can not determine for sure where it came from or exactly what it is capable of, but they do agree that the uber-sophisticated attack represents a turning point for the nature of cyber threats.

Stuxnet is capable of not only infecting SCADA control systems, but can also affect physical damage to the equipment the networks control.

The highly engineered malware also indicates that the creation and distribution of malicious code is not just a means to an end for cyber criminals, but is now being used a a strategy by governments to advance national security agendas.

"Stuxnet has highlighted that direct attacks to control critical infrastructure are possible and not necessarily spy-novel fictions. The real-world implications of Stuxnet are beyond any threat we have seen in the past," Symantec's Dean Turner told the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The Stuxnet virus looks to be specifically designed to interfere with the systems that control electric motors used to spin centrifuges in uranium enrichment process.

Leading theories indicate that the malware was produced to stifle Iran's nuclear warhead ambitions, but the virus has also now been detected in eleven different countries including China, India, Australia, the UK, Germany and the United States.

Stuxnet is the first in-the-wild evidence of what the future of cyber offensives may look like - tailored computer code with a specific purpose that is nearly impossible to trace to any particular state actor.

So instead of the Israeli air force bombing facilities, we have covert malware infesting critical systems to slow Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.

This is cyber warfare.

Source:  http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10332/1106386-96.stm

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