[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
The last few days we have seen quite a few interesting stories about the Stuxnet virus/malware currently wreaking havoc in Iran’s nuclear program. First was this very interesting Fox news reportage on the program:
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.
I mean that passage is so “holy sh-t” I wonder if the correct name for this thing should be “Skynet.” Of course I urge you to read the whole thing.
But then there was a moment this morning that I liken to the second plane striking the WTC. Now let me be clear. I am not about to compare this thing to the evil of the 9-11 attacks, or anything like that. But like a lot of you, I remember hearing about the first plane striking, and thinking it was an accident, or maybe just one lone crazy pilot. And then I heard about the second plane and I knew this was an attack, and it had to be more than just one nut. That was the feeling I had learning the next few facts.
You see, this morning we learn that two of Iran’s nuclear scientists were attacked in car bombs—meaning their cars were blown up. One died and one is hospitalized. And then we learn that according to Debka file…
Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist’s death deals a major blow to Iran’s herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.
So the bomber coincidentally killed one of the guys who was trying to stop Skynet Stuxnet. Now unlike the second plane hitting the WTC, there is room for it to be a coincidence. For instance, the other target was apparently not half as significant, a political appointee. But if this was an attempt to thwart efforts to stop Stuxnet, then consider the implications. This means it is a conspiracy, not just a lone guy with a computer. So either there is a conspiracy within Iran to do this, perhaps including some of the scientists. Or perhaps this is an intelligence operation by a foreign power (which doesn’t eliminate the possibility of local involvement as well).
Or maybe this is burning down the Reichstag. I mean dictators have been known to stage crimes to justify power grabs, especially when there are threats to their power. You know, like the Nazis burning the Reichstag. I mean you do have to wonder how it is we are being allowed to learn so much about Iran’s problems.
Oh, and if we are talking about a foreign power, the list is long on who might do this. Yes, America and Israel are prime suspects. But then so is every Arabic country, pretty much. You think Saudi Arabia or Turkey wants to deal with a nuclear Iran? Of course there are two big pieces of evidence is of so little value I am not even sure it qualifies as evidence. You see, they have found references to the Old Testament and even Jewish history in the code, leading William Jacobson to rationally wonder if this evidence is so obvious that it might be a false flag. At the time I was reminded of a scene in the “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” when Jack Sparrow runs into two guards while trying to get a look at a ship. One guard asks what his business is:
Jack: Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out!
Murtogg: I said no lies
Mullroy: I think he’s telling the truth
Murtogg: If he were telling the truth, he wouldn’t have told us
Jack : Unless, of course, he knew you wouldn’t believe the truth even if he told it to you.
So be appropriately skeptical, but who knows, really? I mean if I was the hacker and I happened to be Jewish (I am not), maybe I would say, “President Amadanutjob will probably blame it on the Jooooos no matter what anyway, so frak it, I might as well make it obvious and taunt them.” Or this could be a really obvious head fake. Or a Christian with powerful sympathies toward Jews. Really, who knows?
But we do have good reason to suspect that the hacker is not working alone, now. Which should increase the psychological damage caused by this virus by tenfold.
For now, I am glad this scary computer virus/malware is doing its thing, really. But of course if Stuxnet suddenly starts building Terminators, you know to run for your life and find John Connor. Yes, even if the Termintor looks like this:
As Cracked once said, “Copying humanity’s schematics presents no discernible advantage on the battlefield…. Unless Skynet understands our biggest weakness is b__ers.”
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]