Using Viruses as Weapons

Viruses have evolved rapidly, and have distanced themselves far from their origins of opening a computer’s CD tray to use as a cup holder. In the past years, viruses have evolved from a medium to tell jokes, to a monetary venture, and are moving dangerously close to the arena of war. The best example of using a virus as a weapon is still Stuxnet.

For those who are not familiar, I would strongly recommend you watch the short clip at the top of this post. It was a revolutionary virus because of its legitimacy. It had 2 proper security clearances from both Realtek and JMicron. The code was very targeted, and the virus would only install itself on machines that met its requirements. It was found on both Windows based machines, and Siemens based controllers in multiple countries. The code spread using many zero-days as well as commonly known vulnerabilities that are structurally similar to conflicker’s distribution method. Yet this behemoth only attacked Iranian nuclear facilities.

Stuxnet invites a new era of virus complexity, as well as a powerful weapon. The virus’s source is freely available, to dissect and modify. Surely megaviruses like Stuxnet will provide a new challenge to current and upcoming security professionals.

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2 thoughts on “Using Viruses as Weapons

  1. Stuxnet 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. What I also found interesting was that prisons use programmable logic controllers to control locks on cells and other facility doors and gates. PLCs are the same devices that Stuxnet exploited to attack centrifuges in Iran. Food for thought, how safe is anyone?

  2. So the origins of this virus still remain unknown and nearly anybody can download and edit this open source code? I find it interesting that even though can view the code everyone can also edit it. This meaning that if someone is working on code to prevent the virus from entering another person across the globe could be making edits and refining the code for easier access to meet their specific needs. The thought that this worm could potentially unlock prison cells and start prison riots makes me paranoid; all it takes is one person with the code knowledge and proper motivation. Scary.

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