Sound the trumpet! 8

Sound the trumpet! Beat the drum! The dread and powerful Malworm Stuxnet is getting nastier!

The secret weapon deployed against Iran, an entirely new type of computer virus named Stuxnet (see our post A virus that might save us all, September 25, 2010), has done even more damage to the Iranian nuclear program and industries than they were at first willing to admit. It incapacitates vital programs, steals and transmits information to its (as yet unidentified, but almost certainly Israeli and US) creators and controllers, and it may be indestructible.

Debkafile now reports how the Iranians’ own computer experts are discovering that the harder they try to extirpate the insidious and elusive enemy, the deeper it establishes itself, and the more havoc it wreaks.

Not only have their own attempts to defeat the invading worm failed, but they made matters worse: The malworm became more aggressive and returned to the attack on parts of the systems damaged in the initial attack.

They’re frantically searching Europe (and probably Germany most persistently because Siemens is Iran’s main systems supplier) for someone who can and will save them from the devouring monster, the invisible worm that is destroying the life of their military-industrial complex. They’re offering astronomical fees to computer mercenaries, but haven’t found anyone to come to their aid. Even if some are willing to try, the Iranians put insuperable obstacles in the way. However badly they need the infidels to save them, they will not let them know what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.

Yet all the while the worm goes on revealing what and where and how.

One [European] expert said: “The Iranians have been forced to realize that they would be better off not ‘irritating’ the invader because it hits back with a bigger punch.”

Perhaps, this expert suggested, even its makers cannot stop it:

Looking beyond Iran’s predicament, he wondered whether the people responsible for planting Stuxnet in Iran – and apparently continuing to offload information from its sensitive systems – have the technology for stopping its rampage.

Some observers (presumably in the US and/or Israel) believe that the number of systems and networks struck by the worm is far greater that the Iranian figure of 30,000 or 45,000, and is more likely to be in the millions.

If that is the case, and if nobody in the world can stop it, Iran is well and truly …. let’s say, wrecked.

For the present at least, Iran is defeated. Western triumphalism is decidedly called for. So another blast of the trumpet, please, another roll on the drum!

Posted under Iran, Israel, jihad, Technology, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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This post has 8 comments.

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  • philabor

    I don't know about Stuxnet, but the administration has lots of tools to attack the opposition. If they started bringing down conservative radio, blog and discussion sites, that would drive a lot of us underground. They could look for a variety of methods, including rogue law firms suing for copyright infringement, any tax discrepancies, net neutrality, etc. Cling to your guns and keep your powder dry. Hope we never have to use them…

    BTW, is it a coincidence that Stuxnet is so close to Skynet? Will Stuxnet become self-aware? If so, we're all screwed!

    • If Stuxnet = Skynet, then I want to take this opportunity to tell you all how much I've enjoyed our brief acquaintance. The fictional Skynet scenario from the Terminator movies is an example of what some call a “hard-takeoff Singularity.” Long explanation where the term comes from, but the idea is some computer program wakes up (i.e., becomes self-aware), optimizes itself for speed, and then…takes over. This is not entirely Science Fiction, but to believe it's possible you also have to believe that self-awareness is an emergent property of computation. That's too much for me to swallow, so I'm not actually worried. But, I could be wrong…

  • Ralph

    I'm all for the destruction of Iran's military-industrial complex, but who's next? Could the next target be atheist conservatives or just conservatives? If this worm was developed by the U.S. government I can't bring myself to trust the Obama adminstration with this much power.

    Perhaps my comment has too many question marks and “ifs”, but I can't stop asking what other targets the creator of this worm might have in mind.

    • Jillian Becker

      Ralph – I share your distrust of this government. If it does have control of Stuxnet, yes, it could use it to exert power over US industries, or – say – a rebellious NASA.

      But conservatives, atheists (or Tea Party folk)? What could it do? If it burrowed into the blogs, emails, tweets of individuals, what would it find to eat? And even if it did spoil a website or two, it wouldn't be more than a nuisance.

      • Ralph

        I was thinking about spyware. As I now understand it stuxnet is not spyware. I stand corrected.

        • Jillian Becker

          Actually, Ralph, you were right in a way. Come to think of it, it is a kind of spyware as it can steal and transmit information (so it is said).

          But as far as I can make out from chat and rumor – which could be very wrong – it is designed to attack massive networks. If so, using it against the odd personal computer would be like sending a flight of bombers to destroy one house.

          Fact is, very few people know anything much about it. The only thing that seems sure is that it is doing a tremendous lot of damage in Iran. And yes, it could do the same sort of damage in other places too. It's a fearsome thing.

        • philabor

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet

          ” It was specifically written to attack Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems used to control and monitor industrial processes.[2] Stuxnet includes the capability to reprogram the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and hide the changes.”

          Programmable Logic Contr0llers are used around the world to control industrial processes. They are essentially rugged computers with lots of input/output ports that can control anything electro-mechanical. The specific ones targeted by Stuxnet are from the German industrial giant Siemens. I heard on the radio that the password for these controllers is hard coded, and has been posted on hacker sites for years.

        • philabor

          Also from the wikipedia article:

          ” it is thought that it may be programmed to cause a catastrophic physical failure by, for example, overriding turbine RPM limits, shutting down lubrication or cooling systems, or sabotaging the high-speed spinning process of centrifuge arrays at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility”

          in which case it could do major damage to the machinery as well 🙂