Monday, November 29, 2010

If Israel Is Not Behind Stuxnet, Then Who?

An article on Fox News indicates that even now, Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions. People are still marveling over the complexity of the computer virus Stuxnet, and the article goes into some detail on what Stuxnet was programmed to do in order to devoid detection.

The one thing that continues to remain a mystery is who is behind it:

Speculation on the worm’s origin initially focused on hackers or even companies trying to disrupt competitors. But as engineers tore apart the virus they learned not only the depth of the code, its complex targeting mechanism, (despite infecting more than 100,000 computers it has only done damage at Natanz,) the enormous amount of work that went into it—Microsoft estimated that it consumed 10,000 man days of labor-- and about what the worm knew, the clues narrowed the number of players that have the capabilities to create it to a handful.

“This is what nation-states build, if their only other option would be to go to war,” Joseph Wouk, an Israeli security expert wrote.

Byers is more certain. “It is a military weapon,” he said.

And much of what the worm “knew” could only have come from a consortium of Western intelligence agencies, experts who have examined the code now believe.
Of course, one country had both the greatest motive as well the greatest ability to put together such a virus--so naturally, it is a prime suspect:
Originally, all eyes turned toward Israel’s intelligence agencies. Engineers examining the worm found “clues” that hinted at Israel’s involvement. In one case they found the word “Myrtus” embedded in the code and argued that it was a reference to Esther, the biblical figure who saved the ancient Jewish state from the Persians. But computer experts say "Myrtus" is more likely a common reference to “My RTUS,” or remote terminal units.
Actually, the alternative is more interesting--unless you happen to be Iran:
Langer argues that no single Western intelligence agency had the skills to pull this off alone. The most likely answer, he says, is that a consortium of intelligence agencies worked together to build the cyber bomb. And he says the most likely confederates are the United States, because it has the technical skills to make the virus, Germany, because reverse-engineering Siemen’s product would have taken years without it, and Russia, because of its familiarity with both the Iranian nuclear plant and Siemen’s systems.
The possibility that Iran's benefactor Russia could be one of those behind Stuxnet cannot make Iran happy.

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