Data Acquisition Blog

Data Acquisition

The Data Acquisition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about signal conditioning components and systems, digital and analog I/O modules, signal and data conversion and data acquisition software. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: Should the Feds Legislate Electronics Recycling?   Next in Blog: We Shouldn't Glorify Today's Cleverest Algorithms
Close
Close
Close
5 comments

Why Stuxnet Worked Awhile

Posted December 09, 2010 8:30 AM by Steve Melito

The Stuxnet worm wasn't the world's first cyber weapon, but the computer malware may have delayed Iran's nuclear ambitions by several years. Over a 17-month period, Stuxnet infected computers at the Islamic Republic's Nantaz facility, which houses nearly 9,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Stuxnet's target, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems made by Siemens, caused the Iranian centrifuges to spin too fast and then suddenly stop. According to some reports, over half of these centrifuges were taken off-line and the facility shutdown at least twice.

Although Stuxnet was eventually discovered by Belarus-based antivirus specialists, damage to the Iranian nuclear program was done. Unlike a missile strike or bomb blast, however, the malware didn't destroy equipment outright. Instead, Stuxnet falsified readings so that operators believed Iran's enrichment program was on track. In reality, however, uranium samples were ruined and centrifuges retired years ahead of schedule. If Stuxnet hadn't been detected, it would have eventually deleted itself.

Is Stuxnet the new face of cyberware, or will future cyberattacks rely less upon deception than outright denial of service (DOS)?

Source: Digital Trends

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Defreestville, NY
Posts: 1072
Good Answers: 87
#1

Re: Why Stuxnet Worked Awhile

12/09/2010 11:26 AM

The affair has escalated to the point where people charged with the removal of Stuxnet in Iran have been outright assassinated in broad daylight and gruesome fashion :

"Motorcylists placed bombs on the windows of cars as the targets of the attack were driving to work, in two identical but separate attacks last Monday. Each device was detonated seconds later leaving little chance of escape."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/06/iran_claims_stuxnet_expert_hit_squad_arrests/

__________________
Charlie don't surf.
Reply
3
Power-User
Popular Science - Biology - New Member

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Colorado - USA
Posts: 133
Good Answers: 15
#2

Re: Why Stuxnet Worked Awhile

12/09/2010 1:16 PM

This reminds me a little of requirement that I take arithmetic and mathematics tests without a calculator. When my fellow students and I complained, our teachers told us that we needed to be able to do the work on our own, so we would have a sense if the data coming from the calculator was wrong. With Stuxnet essentially making the calculator give wrong data, it makes my elementary school teachers look prescient.

With these kinds of possibilities for maliciously induced cyber-deception, we would do well to have mechanical back-ups or double-checks on critical digital measurements in any of our processes. Philosophers have long asked if we can trust our senses. With the success of Stuxnet, we can answer that at least our digital senses can easily be fooled. Having a "second pair of eyes" that are not dependent on software will be especially important in the present and future.

__________________
Life is not an illogicality, yet it is a trap for logicians.
Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
Guru
Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Engineering Fields - Civil Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 714
Good Answers: 37
#3

Re: Why Stuxnet Worked Awhile

12/10/2010 3:16 PM

I would think the options for exploits will always stay open. That is, is it more useful to simply course correct you by a few degrees periodically and let you end up far from where you intended, or it more useful to me to simply "cut your engines"?

The face of cyber-warfare will be always be to exploit the weaknesses in the greatest way possible. I wonder if they do benefit/cost analysis during the development stage...

__________________
Sometimes my thoughts are in a degree of order so high even I don't get it...
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 14
Good Answers: 1
#4

Re: Why Stuxnet Worked Awhile

12/10/2010 4:11 PM

Question is too broad.

The motivation for these types of attacks are basically 'glory' and 'subterfuge'.

The 'glory' attacks will most certainly be of the easier DOS type of attack, public and easily seen by others.

The 'subterfuge' attacks will have many and varied reasons for the attack, from stopping the building of nuclear weapons to the attainment of wealth. Those choosing the subterfuge route will employ whatever means is necessary to attain the goal.

__________________
The imprtant thing about a goal is having one.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2010
Location: in optimism
Posts: 4050
Good Answers: 129
#5

Re: Why Stuxnet Worked Awhile

12/10/2010 5:21 PM

Perhaps the main question is "How Will Stuxnet Return"?

A parallel might be the British discovering the photo trigger in German bombs, designed to kill disposal crew, which was 'improved and returned'.

They were fairly even in technology and infrastructure vulnerability.

Who's country, I wonder, is most vulnerable, post this 'sharing' and this 'precedent'?

However, strategically, the 'discovery contingency' of killing off everyone capable of analyzing and/or 'improving' the code, must have been 'deemed acceptable' prior to launch.

But perhaps the biggest problem is the 'precedent' for every other county, "allies", or not, to the assumption of sovereignty and infrastructure control by the 'launcher'.

I wonder if "no one in the rest of the world will ever trust us again and marginal friends will join our enemies" was in the 'discovery contingency'?

Or, that 20 seconds after a copy was obtained, a queue formed, exponentially widening the "hit list" across the 'rest of the world' including 'allies'?

I think this 'launch' will go down in History as about as well ranked and weighted as the 'command decision' to assassinate the Arch Duke Ferdinand.

__________________
There is no sin except stupidity. (Oscar Wilde, Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 - 1900))
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 5 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

34point5 (1); ChaoticIntellect (1); dcapps4140 (1); GKC (1); stevem (1)

Previous in Blog: Should the Feds Legislate Electronics Recycling?   Next in Blog: We Shouldn't Glorify Today's Cleverest Algorithms

Advertisement