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Stuxnet malware is 'weapon' out to destroy ... Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant?

sokpupet

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Well, we knew this was bound to happen.. .. ..

~snip

The cyber worm, called Stuxnet, has been the object of intense study since its detection in June. As more has become known about it, alarm about its capabilities and purpose have grown. Some top cyber security experts now say Stuxnet's arrival heralds something blindingly new: a cyber weapon created to cross from the digital realm to the physical world – to destroy something.

At least one expert who has extensively studied the malicious software, or malware, suggests Stuxnet may have already attacked its target – and that it may have been Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which much of the world condemns as a nuclear weapons threat.

The appearance of Stuxnet created a ripple of amazement among computer security experts. Too large, too encrypted, too complex to be immediately understood, it employed amazing new tricks, like taking control of a computer system without the user taking any action or clicking any button other than inserting an infected memory stick. Experts say it took a massive expenditure of time, money, and software engineering talent to identify and exploit such vulnerabilities in industrial control software systems.

Unlike most malware, Stuxnet is not intended to help someone make money or steal proprietary data. Industrial control systems experts now have concluded, after nearly four months spent reverse engineering Stuxnet, that the world faces a new breed of malware that could become a template for attackers wishing to launch digital strikes at physical targets worldwide. Internet link not required.

"Until a few days ago, people did not believe a directed attack like this was possible," Ralph Langner, a German cyber-security researcher, told the Monitor in an interview. He was slated to present his findings at a conference of industrial control system security experts Tuesday in Rockville, Md. "What Stuxnet represents is a future in which people with the funds will be able to buy an attack like this on the black market. This is now a valid concern."
 

rathi

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This is sensational bull****. It is beyond credibility that Iran would connect is nuclear program to the internet. The memory stick attack only works on Windows, and they don't have USB ports on nuclear reactors. It is easy to prevent any cyber-attack by simply never connecting your critical system to the internet and strictly controlling physical access. Contrary to hollywood movies, hackers cannot actually hack your toaster over the internet and make it explode.
 

expandmymind

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This is sensational bull****. It is beyond credibility that Iran would connect is nuclear program to the internet. The memory stick attack only works on Windows, and they don't have USB ports on nuclear reactors. It is easy to prevent any cyber-attack by simply never connecting your critical system to the internet and strictly controlling physical access. Contrary to hollywood movies, hackers cannot actually hack your toaster over the internet and make it explode.
The man interviewed in this video on Bloomberg

YouTube - Israel attacks Iran with Computer Virus

Thinks it possible. He also states that Iran has USB ports and Windows. He seems respectable.
 

Tashah

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The man interviewed in this video on Bloomberg

YouTube - Israel attacks Iran with Computer Virus

Thinks it possible. He also states that Iran has USB ports and Windows. He seems respectable.
According to DEBKAfile (a sort of Israeli Drudge Report) Stuxnet is a clandestine joint-venture of US and Israeli cyber teams.

Tehran confirms its industrial computers under Stuxnet virus attack
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 25, 2010

Mahmoud Alyaee, secretary-general of Iran's industrial computer servers, including its nuclear facilities control systems, confirmed Saturday, Sept. 25, that 30,000 computers belonging to classified industrial units had been infected and disabled by the malicious Stuxnet virus. This followed DEBKAfile's exclusive report Thursday, Sept. 23, from its Washington and defense sources that a clandestine cyber war is being fought against Iran by the United States with elite cyber war units established by Israel. The Iranian official said Stuxnet had been designed to strike the industrial control systems in Iran manufactured by the German Siemens and transfer classified data abroad.

According to Alyaee, the virus began attacking Iranian industrial systems two months ago. He had no doubt that Iran was the victim of a cyber attack which its anti-terror computer experts had so far failed to fight. Stuxnet is powerful enough to change an entire environment, he said without elaborating. Not only has it taken control of automatic industrial systems, but has raided them for classified information and transferred the data abroad. This was the first time an Iranian official has explained how the United States and Israel intelligence agencies have been able to keep pace step by step of progress made in Iran's nuclear program. Until now, Tehran attributed the leaks to Western spies using Iranian double agents.

Last Thursday, DEBKAfile first reported from its Washington sources that US president Barack Obama had resolved to deal with the nuclear impasse with Iran by going after the Islamic republic on two tracks: UN and unilateral sanctions for biting deep into the financial resources Iran has earmarked for its nuclear program, and a secret cyber war with Israel to cripple its nuclear facilities. In New York, the US offer to go back to the negotiating table was made against this background.
DEBKAfile.com
 

expandmymind

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According to DEBKAfile (a sort of Israeli Drudge Report) Stuxnet is a clandestine joint-venture of US and Israeli cyber teams.


DEBKAfile.com
It seems like the logical approach to take for Israel and the US when sanctions don't really have the desired effect on a country who has lived under them for decades. If anything though, this shows that there is no nuclear weapons program. If there was, the details would have been released long ago.
 
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rathi

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Thinks it possible. He also states that Iran has USB ports and Windows. He seems respectable.
After some research, it appears that such an attack actually is possible. First, you need some brain dead idiot to stick a random USB device into a windows machine and use its stolen certificates to run itself. The Siemens PLC, which is so poorly designed it has a default password you can't change, interfaces with the infected windows machine. Assuming that the PLC isn't sensibly locked down in a ROM mode, it could become infected.

I admit that I was over-optimistic in assuming that people would actually implement sane security procedures on a nuclear powerplant of all things. It is pathetic that I deal with corporate networks that are much more secure. On the other hand, you can't make the powerplant explode even if you infect the control system. While the reactor could be damaged, a major meltdown isn't likely.
 

Tashah

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If anything though, this shows that there is no nuclear weapons program. If there was, the details would have been released long ago.
This shows no such conclusion. Iran states the cyber-attack began two months ago and that data has been transferred to clandestine servers abroad. There is no mention as to how much data has been transferred thus far, nor how long it would take to analyze this transferred data. It also seems that Iran is unable to regain control over these 30,000 computers, so data packets may still be in the process of transfer.

Assuming that this is the reality, it will probably take US/Israeli experts many many additional months to review all of the received data and construct a detailed schematic of Iran's nuclear activities.
 

expandmymind

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This shows no such conclusion. Iran states the cyber-attack began two months ago and that data has been transferred to clandestine servers abroad. There is no mention as to how much data has been transferred thus far, nor how long it would take to analyze this transferred data. It also seems that Iran is unable to regain control over these 30,000 computers, so data packets may still be in the process of transfer.

Assuming that this is the reality, it will probably take US/Israeli experts many many additional months to review all of the received data and construct a detailed schematic of Iran's nuclear activities.
Fair point but I was only going off the text you provided above.

This was the first time an Iranian official has explained how the United States and Israel intelligence agencies have been able to keep pace step by step of progress made in Iran's nuclear program
'Step-by-step of progress' led me to believe they were keeping a close track of their program.
 

Tashah

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Fair point but I was only going off the text you provided above. 'Step-by-step of progress' led me to believe they were keeping a close track of their program.
It is possible they already have a general outline (enough to take to Obama), but it will take quite a while to examine the operations on the "nuts and bolts" level so to speak.
 

expandmymind

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It is possible they already have a general outline (enough to take to Obama), but it will take quite a while to examine the operations on the "nuts and bolts" level so to speak.
If they find anything damning, I'll eat my hat :lol:
 

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It only makes sense that the information age would have information wars.

Given that so much of our economy is moving over to the internet, it is only a matter of time before cyber attacks are a viable way of causing great havoc.

Attacks on power plants? Peh. In a couple decades, we could see entire electrical grids shut down under a malware attack.
 
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Shayah

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Clearly, only a handful of states possess the technical sophistication necessary to engineer a malware program of this magnitude. The United States and Israel would be prime suspects, Britain, France, and Germany are second tier candidates, Russia and China are also possibilities.

Iranian officials insist that the computer network affected was not connected to the Internet. This would imply that someone on the inside initiated the Stuxnet worm. Most experts are of the opinion that a Russian technician either purposefully or inadvertently introduced Stuxnet into the Iranian nuclear facility at Bushehr.

Computer security experts who have studied Stuxnet since it emerged two months ago believe it was designed specifically to attack the Siemens-designed working system of the Bushehr plant and appears to have infected the system via the laptops and USB drives of Russian technicians who had been working there.
Iran nuclear experts race to stop spread of Stuxnet computer worm | World news | guardian.co.uk

The question then becomes, how did the Russian equipment destined for Bushehr acquire the Stuxnet worm?

This could be the most magnificent espionage operation of all time.
 

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If they don't find anything damning, I'll eat my beret.
What makes you so sure? And what, exactly, do you expect them to find?

It's fairly common knowledge that the nuclear weapons program they had ended long ago (2004, I think). There hasn't been one intelligence organisation who claims otherwise, that I know of.

This is nothing more than propaganda designed to pave the way for another illegal and immoral war designed to hold control over the Middle East. It's so transparent that it's not even funny.
 
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Tashah

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It's fairly common knowledge that the nuclear weapons program they had ended long ago (2004, I think). There hasn't been one intelligence organisation who claims otherwise, that I know of.
Perhaps there will be shortly. On the face of things...

Stuxnet wasn't a hackers attempt to reap a monetary windfall via extortion and blackmail. This is strictly about gaining access to a massive amount of Iranian state secrets. This operation was extremely sophisticated and required the technical expertise to develop a specialized product never seen before. It had to be conceived, developed, tested, delivered, and harvested. All this didn't happen on the cheap. Some organization clearly expected the end-result to vindicate the outlay of resources devoted to acquiring that end-result.
 

rathi

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Attacks on power plants? Peh. In a couple decades, we could see entire electrical grids shut down under a malware attack.
You are probably right. Even if it isn't that hard to make a powerplant nearly immune to any kind of computer based attack, human idiocy is an immense obstacle in actually getting a working system in place.
 

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Perhaps there will be shortly. On the face of things...

Stuxnet wasn't a hackers attempt to reap a monetary windfall via extortion and blackmail. This is strictly about gaining access to a massive amount of Iranian state secrets. This operation was extremely sophisticated and required the technical expertise to develop a specialized product never seen before. It had to be conceived, developed, tested, delivered, and harvested. All this didn't happen on the cheap. Some organization clearly expected the end-result to vindicate the outlay of resources devoted to acquiring that end-result.
Indeed, it seems like the perfect prelude to war. They'll be an open book, mauled in a day or two.
 

Vader

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It seems like the logical approach to take for Israel and the US when sanctions don't really have the desired effect on a country who has lived under them for decades. If anything though, this shows that there is no nuclear weapons program. If there was, the details would have been released long ago.
WRONG.

It proves nothing. If there is a nuclear program, it's now hiding in Syria. Syria needs to be searched and disarmed.
 

sokpupet

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Looks like someone sent an extremely advanced worm virus into Iran's nuclear facilities. The worm took years to create and is designed to destroy Iran's nuclear enrichment program. The worm, called Stuxnet, hopped around from computer to computer until it found the specific protected control system it was designed to destroy.

This worm has crippled the Iranian nuclear program.

~snip
In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.

The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.

But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.

Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.

Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.

When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions.

And finally, after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy itself without leaving a trace.

That is what we are learning happened at Iran's nuclear facilities -- both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran's nuclear power plant.

At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component -- the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges' control panel.
LINK
 

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According to DEBKAfile (a sort of Israeli Drudge Report) Stuxnet is a clandestine joint-venture of US and Israeli cyber teams.
DEBKAfile.com
More that just the US and Israel involved according to this guy..

Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran,s Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.” The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.
...snips..
Langer argues that no single Western intelligence agency had the skills to pull this off alone. The most likely answer, he says, is that a consortium of intelligence agencies worked together to build the cyber bomb. And he says the most likely confederates are the United States, because it has the technical skills to make the virus, Germany, because reverse-engineering Siemen’s product would have taken years without it, and Russia, because of its familiarity with both the Iranian nuclear plant and Siemen’s systems.
 
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