Wednesday, April 27, 2011
US, Israeli made computer virus shutting down nuclear plants around the world?
It is now common knowledge that the U.S. and Israel developed the Stuxnet computer virus in order to slow down Iran's nuclear program.
As the New York Times noted in January:
Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.
Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.
“To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” said an American expert on nuclear intelligence. “The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”
Though American and Israeli officials refuse to talk publicly about what goes on at Dimona, the operations there, as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program.
Officially, neither American nor Israeli officials will even utter the name of the malicious computer program, much less describe any role in designing it.
But Israeli officials grin widely when asked about its effects. Mr. Obama’s chief strategist for combating weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore, sidestepped a Stuxnet question at a recent conference about Iran, but added with a smile: “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.”
By the accounts of a number of computer scientists, nuclear enrichment experts and former officials, the covert race to create Stuxnet was a joint project between the Americans and the Israelis, with some help, knowing or unknowing, from the Germans and the British.
And the Telegraph noted last month:
A showreel played at a retirement party for the head of the Israeli Defence Forces has strengthened claims the country's security forces were responsible for a cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear programme.
The video of Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi's operational successes included references to Stuxnet, a computer virus that disrupted the Natanz nuclear enrichment site last year, Ha'aretz reported.
Although Israel has not officially accepted responsibility for the Stuxnet attack, evidence of its role has been mounting since it was first discovered last July.
Attributing the source of cyber attacks in notoriously difficult, but security researchers say factors including complexity of the operation, which would have required human sources inside the Iranian nuclear programme, point strongly to the Israeli security forces.