Like nothing seen before 290

Ralph Langner, a German computer security expert, has fathomed what Stuxnet was designed to do (by whom, nobody knows), and declares it  a stunningly advanced technological achievement.

(See our posts A virus that might save us all, Sept 25, 2010, and Sound the trumpet!, September 29, 2010.)

Praising the sophistication of the attack code, Langner … compared it to “the arrival of an F-35 fighter jet on a World War I battlefield.” He called the technology, “much superior to anything ever seen before, and to what was assumed possible.”

It was designed, he says, specifically to attack Iran’s nuclear program by means of two distinct “digital warheads” aimed respectively at two military targets: uranium enrichment plants and the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

He explained how the worm works to destroy these targets:

The portion of the worm that targeted uranium enrichment plants manipulated the speeds of mechanical parts in the enrichment process, which would ultimately “result in cracking the rotor, thereby destroying the centrifuge.”  …

The second “warhead” [that] targeted the Bushehr nuclear plant … had no relation to the first “warhead” … [It]  was intended to attack the external turbine controller of the Bushehr plant, a 150 foot “chunk of metal,” that could “destroy the turbine as effectively as an air strike.”

He did not say that he or anyone else could “cure” the infected Iranian computer systems.

However, Iran does not apparently need any outside help. Having superior technological know-how, it can deal effectively with Stuxnet all by itself,  according to its intelligence minister Heldar Moslehi:

“Iran’s intelligence department has found a solution for confronting (the worm) and it will be applied,” he was quoted as saying. “Our domination of virtual networks has thwarted the activities of enemies in this regard.”

Somehow he doesn’t sound either convinced or convincing. We cheerfully guess – and affably hope – that the Iranian dominators of virtual networks will struggle on unsuccessfully with the Stuxnet depredations for a good long time to come.