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.