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Iran's first nuclear power plant has suffered a serious cyber-intrusion from a sophisticated worm that infected workers' computers, and potentially plant systems.  (Source: AP)

The worm has spread to over 10,000 computers in Indonesia. Computers in the U.S. have also been infected.  (Source: Digitrain)
Attack has since spread to plants and computers in the U.S. and elsewhere, posing serious threat

It's been only a month since the activation of Iran's first nuclear power plant and there's already a major crisis concerning proliferation.  But this crisis has nothing to do with nuclear arms proliferation.  Rather, the scare has to do with the proliferation of the Stuxnet worm, a malicious computer program that has invaded the plant's computers and since spread to computers worldwide.

The viral program is very sophisticated and appears designed specifically to attack the plant.  It first was released onto workers' computers, designed to try to reach plant's control systems.  Unlike other more sophisticated attacks which appeared to be primarily geared for monitoring, this attack was designed to do damage.  It contained logic to sabotage nuclear fuel enrichment centrifuges.  The centrifuges, made by German equipment electronics giant Siemens, would be made to fail in a virtually unnoticeable way.

The Bushehr plant is located near Natanz, central-Iranian city located almost 200 miles south of the capital city of Tehran.  The plant is a joint endeavor between Iran and Russia.  While the U.S. and others have chastised Russia for its involvement, the U.S. intelligence community has asserted that it doesn't believe Iran to be currently developing nuclear weapons at the facility.

Mahmoud Jafari, project manager at the Bushehr nuclear plant is quoted in 
The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, as stating that the viral worm never achieved its goal.  Comments Mr. Jafari, "[It] has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant."

But according to international whistle-blower site 
Wikileaks, a serious nuclear accident occurred at the plant sometime before mid-June.  The site's founder, Julian Assange, wrote:

Two weeks ago, a source associated with Iran's nuclear program confidentially told WikiLeaks of a serious, recent, nuclear accident at Natanz. Natanz is the primary location of Iran's nuclear enrichment program.
WikiLeaks had reason to believe the source was credible however contact with this source was lost.
WikiLeaks would not normally mention such an incident without additional confirmation, however according to Iranian media and the BBC, today the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, has resigned under mysterious circumstances. According to these reports, the resignation was tendered around 20 days ago.

Inspectors examined the claims, but found no distinguishable traces of an accident.

A time stamp on the virus reveals that it was made in January.  What is equally remarkable to its sophistication in terms of attack behavior is the lack of sophistication when it comes to the worm's proliferation.  

If it had constrained its infections to Bushehr, it would likely not have been noticed for some time.  Instead, the worm was extremely aggressive in its infection vectors, spreading to fifteen other Siemens plants, and tens of thousands of non-plant computers worldwide.  In Iran 60,000 computers are infected.  In Indonesia, 10,000 machines are infected.  And in the United States thousands of computers are believed to be infected as well.

That creates a dangerous situation, as numerous parties, including international governments and black-hat hackers, are racing to reverse-engineer the code and exploit the infected machines.  The infected machines may not only compromise personal details, but may compromise industrial infrastructure in Iran, Indonesia, India (another infection site), and the U.S.

Melissa Hathaway, a former United States national cybersecurity coordinator, comments, "Proliferation is a real problem, and no country is prepared to deal with it.  All of these guys are scared to death. We have about 90 days to fix this before some hacker begins using it."

So who is behind the attacks?  
The New York Times quotes a former U.S. intelligence office as saying that the attack was the work of Israel’s equivalent of America’s National Security Agency, known as Unit 8200.  According to IEEE Spectrum's December issue, Israel had previously used a cyber-attack to shut off radar systems in Syria, allowing it to evaluate what it believed to be an under-construction nuclear reactor.

Regardless of who perpetrated the attack, the primary issue now is stamping it out, before it can be used for even more nefarious purposes.  Early reports were unclear about the transmission vector, but suggested it may be spreading via USB sticks and other removable media.



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RE: Sigh
By DaveSylvia on 9/27/2010 12:42:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad Israel and the US are allies but lets be realistic, Israel is just as much at fault for perpetuating violence in the region as anyone else. It's rarely about defending their turf as much as it is about preemptive or retaliatory strikes without regard for who might be in the crossfire.


RE: Sigh
By YashBudini on 9/27/2010 9:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's rarely about defending their turf as much as it is about preemptive or retaliatory strikes without regard for who might be in the crossfire.

Sounds like our future.


RE: Sigh
By flatrock on 9/28/2010 11:51:54 AM , Rating: 3
What would you have them do? Their enemies purposfully attack civilians, and then hide within the civilian populous. Israel takes great pains to limit civilian casualties, but do you really expect then to allow terrorists to continue to fire rockets at their people and attack their civilians without responding becuase there might be civilians in the same building the terrorists are attacking form, or are operating our of?

The Israeli's aren't the one openly pronouncing they won't stop until Israel is completely wiped off the map and and the Israeli's are vastly outnumbered. If Isreal merely makes a porportional response after they are attacked, their enemies will consider that a victory and continue to throw away lives to reach their goals. They place little value on human life and are willing to sacrifice a great number of their own people to eridacate the Jews. Not merely "take back Palestine", but irradicate Israel from the youngest infant to the oldest retiree.

How in the face of that can they just sit back and let their people be killed while they do nothing?


RE: Sigh
By seraphim1982 on 9/28/2010 4:58:58 PM , Rating: 1
History and Current events is often analyzed in different ways. You say these terrorists hide in the civilians...where else do you expect them to hide, same could be said about the French Resistance, VietCongs, and many more freedom fighters and/or terrorists.

The way I see it, Israel has shits loads of MONEY, TECH, POWER, INFLUENCE, WEAPONS, SUPPLIES, PLACES TO LIVE, yet these people have nothing and hide in civilians. Can you really expect much else from them?? They can't even get supplies brought to them from external sources, please see Floatilla raid. This kind of reminds me of the ghettos that the Jews were put in prior to being sent off to concentration camps. Nothing could get in or out, just enough to live, but no freedom. To me, it seems the victims have now become the aggressor, usually the case with a lot a victims.

Clearly, you are stating the case of the extremists. Why don't you quote that Palenstine doctor who had 2 out of his 3 kids killed in an Israeli attack, yet doesn't vow vengeance. These are the leaders of the world with peace, not people who can't concede anything. He conceded his 2 daughters to give a msg a peace. Israel vs Palestine = 2 kids nerd raging at each other over who's to blame in the an online game. Raging isn't gonna solve shit and this post I'm replying to is exactly why this peace isn't gonna happen. People just blame, without seeing what has happened.


RE: Sigh
By ADoA on 10/4/2010 11:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
I suggest you do some more read-up on the Flotilla to see what it really was about. Just do a search for "flotilla humanitarian motives." While at it, also look up the video "The Humanitarian Crisis of the Gaza Mall." It's very, very sad and depressing.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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