Fartashphoto's Blog

First Cyber Super Weapon

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on November 19, 2010

The Stuxnet worm, a complicated piece of malware apparently engineered to disrupt Iranian uranium enrichment, could be modified to attack more industries, according to experts speaking to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The widespread interconnection of corporate networks and use of SCADA systems means that industrial infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to software attack. Such control systems are used in virtually every industry—food production, vehicle assembly, chemical manufacturing—and are commonly exposed to insecure networks. This leaves them vulnerable to tampering, such as with Stuxnet, as well as intellectual property theft.

The Stuxnet worm was both complex, using a range of techniques to infect machines and spread through networks, and carefully targeted, with a payload specifically designed to attack Siemens SCADA software. Together, these properties together make it uniquely dangerous. Dean Turner, director of the Global Intelligence Network at Symantec Corp., told the committee that the “implications of Stuxnet are beyond any threat we have seen in the past.”

“The reality is that the current, porous state of our nation’s infrastructure means that it wouldn’t take malware as robust and sophisticated as Stuxnet to cripple many of our critical systems.” The committee continued, “Stuxnet has some 4,000 functions; by comparison, the software that runs the average email server has 2,000 functions. Stuxnet can even update itself automatically.”

Of the 44,000 known cases of Stuxnet infection, 60 percent are in Iran. As many as 1,600 computers in the United States have been infected. Stuxnet targets computers who use the Windows operating system and can do many things. Sean McGurk of the Department of Homeland Security summed up Stuxnet as a dangerous virus that appears invisible.

“This code can automatically enter a system, steal the formula for the product you are manufacturing, alter the ingredients being mixed in your product and indicate…everything is running as expected.”

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