Stuxnet – A New Breed of Virus

No longer do we live in a world of viruses that perpetually reboot your computer or wipe your C drive.  The planet has moved into a new age of cyber attacks with the discovery of Stuxnet, a virus unlike any before.  Stuxnet is a super virus designed to specifically attack machines made by the company Siemens, which Iran uses for its uranium enrichment plants.  Many speculate that this virus is one designed by a government, and most people point the finger at the Israeli and American governments.  Both have no comment on the Stuxnet virus, but they both are pleased with the fact that it has delayed Iran’s production of a nuclear weapon by “at least 3 years,” according to the Obama Administration.

The virus is designed to one attack the Siemens machines, therefore if it infects the personal computer of average Joe, it will not damage the computer in any way.  According to a popular video on gizmodo.com,  “Stuxnet has the power to control power grids, oil pipelines, and even turn up the pressure in nuclear reactors – all while reporting that the system is normal.”  Stuxnet’s source code is online, which means that anyone who can dissect it can change the code to do anything they want.

There are two main components that make up Stuxnet: an exploit (trojan), and a rootkit.  A rootkit is a virus that allows administrator access to a computer, and hides this access from the operating system.  Stuxnet did not use a forged security clearance – it used an actual security clearance certificate stolen from VeriSign, which made it undetectable from antivirus programs.  The virus works on any Windows machines running Windows 2000 or later.  Since most companies in the business world use Windows as their main operating system, the virus has the potential to do much more damage, especially if someone is able to reprogram it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/70622.html

http://gizmodo.com/5812787/stuxnet-deconstructed-shows-one-scary-virus

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5 thoughts on “Stuxnet – A New Breed of Virus

  1. I am confused as to the reason why anyone would release this code to the public, of coarse unintentionally, but regardless this technology is dangerous to everyone because one it is tweaked it can be used to corrupt any data system in the world provided they have the right clearance and technological skills. So in essence, this technology is so dangerous no one should use it, because as we know almost everything runs on the internet nowadays!

  2. I looked at the source code. I dont know if I am allowed to post the link, but it would require a lot of reverse engineering to use the snippets of code that is available to the public. In other words, tweaking it would be very impracticable for a cyber criminal, but it is really cool to learn and understand how Stuxnet works.

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