Stuxnet was discovered in early 2010. It was a one-of-its-kind virus that was created to target real world infrastructures like power plants. Symantec Security has made it known recently how the virus operated maliciously against the industrial sites in Iran. Some particularly lethal versions of the Stuxnet virus started targeting within 12 hours of being coded.
“We are trying to do some epidemiology,” Orla Cox of Symantec told BBC News. “We are trying to understand how and why it spread.”
This worm was first spotted early last year when an initial analysis revealed that this malware has been coded by a ‘national state’ to target the enviable nuclear program by Iran, including the Natanz facility that bore pure uranium enrichment deposits for use in the nuclear project.
When asked in an interview the Russian side referred to the 1986 nuclear incident and termed these types of attacks as the way to a new Chernobyl.
Speculations are going on all around about the origin of the virus as the true designers are still at large. Iranian officials had been brave enough to publicly admit the infection to their staff computers because of this virus. However, they remain adamant in saying that the virus did not cause any major delays in the proceedings of the nuclear program. This information in many ways contradicts the earlier knowledge of their uranium enrichment project being affected by the malicious viral intent.
According to new research which was based on the collection of 12,000 infections by antivirus firms, analysis was done to reveal that Stuxnet was aimed to target 5 industrial units in Iran. The information was easily collected by Symantec as Stuxnet virus is peculiarly designed to collect computer information according to location, name, and time at which each system is to be infected. When the virus strains were analyzed it came to the fore that the Stuxnet coders infiltrated the targeted computers as was evident from the time between attacks. This was based on the fact that the targeted locations had no internet connection because of security reasons and hence attacking the industrial systems was very difficult. The virus was therefore cleverly injected through USB flash drives that infected the Windows machines and then the entire computer network.
Cox states, “The virus could have been spread between the organizations by contractors that worked for more than one of them. We see threads to contractors used by these companies. We can see links between them.”
Stuxnet was developed to locate industrial controls software developed by Simenon’s with specific configurations. The Stuxnet code was able to “reprogram” the logically operational software into giving new instructions to the industrial machines. Anyone who has ever watched a sci-fi movie can imagine how much of a catastrophe this can cause to top-secret missions.