Cyber Warfare on the Net III

It looks like the Stuxnet virus that has infected the nuclear systems of the Iranians is far more effective than previously disclosed. Between Nov. 16th and 22nd, the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz were shut down due to “power fluctuations”. It turns out that 5000 of the 8000 centrifuges were damaged beyond repair and the Iranians are at an impasse as to how to eliminate the virus.

A second version of the Stuxnet malware has attacked the turbines of the Bushehr nuclear plant and rendered that facility inoperative. All this without sending dozens of planes or missiles in an effort to bring the Iranian nuclear program to a halt. America and the Israelis are the usual suspects, and the fact that the virus has been found to be resident on computers in China and elsewhere, but dormant in its effects, leads credence to this supposition. Efforts to remove the virus are more dangerous than leaving it be, since attempts to remove it seem to activate its worst characteristics. The fact that it remains extremely elusive in the network backup systems where it has been found to take up residence renders this virus an amazing advance in military technology.

Security firms whose job it is to help users eliminate viral infections of this sort on their computers have noted an alarming and continuing rise in requests for help in combating the Stuxnet virus coming from Iran. A corporate officer from a security firm whose name he refused to disclose, stated that “Our traffic from Iran has really spiked. Iran now represents 14.9 percent of total traffic, surpassing the United States with a total of 12.1 percent. Given the different population sizes, that is a significant number.” This is despite the fact that many of these requests for help are disguised and otherwise cloaked in secrecy.

The killing of Majid Shahriari in an explosion and the serious injuries to an associate physicist at the same university in Iran also add credibility to this secret war being undertaken against Iran. Professor Shahriari was said to be Iran’s major expert on computer codes and cyber war and headed the team established by the Iranian government to try and limit the tremendous damage being done to their nuclear capabilities. His death is another blow to efforts to contain the continuing depredations of this virus.

J.R. Dunn, a writer who has written extensively on this virus, concludes: “A cyber warhead of this sophistication represents an evolution even more profound than the introduction of ironclads in the Civil War or aircraft in WWI.” Let’s hope that it remains in the hands of our friends, and continues to be a hornet’s nest for our enemies.