How a Computer Worm Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapon Ambitions

#Computers

Tue, Nov 30th, 2010 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Last year, Iran's much bragged about nuclear program was taken down by a computer worm called Stuxnet. But it wasn't until the worm was examined by a Belarus-based company doing business in Iran that the high level of sophistication behind it became evident.

Stuxnet, considered the first "weaponised computer virus," had to be able to quietly and undetectably work its way into the facility: it did so by jumping from computer to computer, until it reached its target. Once there, it grew and adapted to security measures and other changes until it found the specific protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran's nuclear enrichment program. At that point, it deliberately manipulated those systems, irreparably destroying them, before deleting itself without leaving a trace.

Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet, called the level of sophistication behind Stuxnet so advanced that it was "like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield."

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