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The Most Sophisticated Cyberweapon Ever Deployed is Changing Warfare

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The Stuxnet worm heralds a new way of thinking about war.

The New York Times is reporting that Stuxnet computer worm has destroyed 20% of the nuclear centrifuges in Iran, setting back their Nuclear bomb program by three years. (Other sources estimate 10 percent damaged.)

The article reports that, cooperating with the USA, Israel tested and developed the virus at the secret Dimona facility in the Negev, where Israeli's undiscussed nuclear weapons are developed and stored.

The Times article reported, " In recent days, the retiring chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton separately announced that they believed Iran's efforts had been set back by several years.," and, "It's like a playbook," said Ralph Langner, an independent computer security expert in Hamburg, Germany, who was among the first to decode Stuxnet. "Anyone who looks at it carefully can build something like it." Mr. Langner is among the experts who expressed fear that the attack had legitimized a new form of industrial warfare, one to which the United States is also highly vulnerable."

The Times article reports that the main focus, in development of the Stuxnet virus, was on computer controllers. These devices that are becoming more and more ubiquitous in all kinds of factory equipment, machinery, automobiles, even toys. Wikileaks collection of State Department cables included ones from 2009 expressing concern, as the Times article reports, " urgent efforts in April 2009 to stop a shipment of Siemens controllers, contained in 111 boxes at the port of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. They were headed for Iran, one cable said, and were meant to control "uranium enrichment cascades" -- the term for groups of spinning centrifuges."


Iranian Nuclear Facility


Mr Langner, head of a small German computer security company, discovered, after testing the Stuxnet virus, that it was widespread, but only caused damage when it encountered very specific configurations of controllers, ones found in a centrifuge plant. This was precision targeting.

To make the Stuxnet worm work as a precision industrial weapon, it was necessary to acquire some of the more than six foot tall centrifuges so they could be tested. This is where the Israeli Dimona facility played a key role.

Once the virus was deployed, it had partial, not complete success in damaging the Iranian nuclear effort.


In late November, Mahmoud Ahmadinejead reported,

" "[Iran's enemies] succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts," Ahmadinejad said. "They did a bad thing. Fortunately our experts discovered that, and today they are not able [to do that] anymore."


it is estimated that almost 1000 of the centrifuges were damaged.

The times wrote, as the title states, this is "the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever deployed."

Ced Kurtz, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, "Taking out a tenth of the centrifuges at the Iranian facility is comparable to an air strike. Now that is war."

In the past, if a government attacked another nation's factory, that would be considered an act of war.

Now, we are faced with a situation in which the US collaborated with Israel to build a cyberweapon that caused millions, perhaps billions in damage to Iran.

Teheran knew in November that the Stuxnet worm had caused the destruction. Now, with the NY Times report, if not before, Iran is faced with a decision. Will it take the cyberattack as an act of war? If so, will it respond in kind? If so, it is likely that Iran will source cyberweapons where it can find them, as it has sourced weapons construction resources from places like Pakistan and North Korea.

One place Iran may seek powerful cyberweapons is China. There, the Chinese have access to tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of computers which have Green Dam software installed on them. While this is purportedly to protect the young from pornography, it provides a point of easy access to millions of computers, which COULD be used to initiate incredibly power denial of service attacks and other malevolent efforts. It is inconceivable that the US and G20 nation not know the cyberweapon potential of the combined installations of millions of Green Dam Software.

That reality suggests that the Stuxnet worm is a tiny tip of a massive, and fast growing iceberg of Cyberwarfare technologies. It is very likely that before long, tens of millions of computers, very likely including smart phones and notepads, in the US and throughout the world will, unknown to their users, include software code, lying silent, in wait for commands, that will be used to launch attack on targets the computer owners know nothing of, as is done with common computer virus mediated denial of service attacks. The difference will be that these attacks will be government or military initiated.

The question is, will these attacks be considered attacks that signal the start of wars?

 

Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

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Iran, of course, has been in an undeclared war wit... by John W. Bales on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 4:24:22 PM
it isn't Iran that has surrounded itself with fore... by Archie on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 9:30:06 PM
..............the United States and, yes, the whol... by Robert P. Philipps on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 5:47:40 PM
'All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased t... by Ned Lud on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 7:52:37 AM
that Iran is on a weapons program, then the assess... by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 5:55:43 PM
is anybody else thinking what I'm thinking? Hackin... by MJ Creech on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 9:57:24 PM
So MJ, you're advocating for citizens to hack our ... by Roberto Benitez on Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 at 10:58:41 PM
Kall's analysis succinctly deals with the heart of... by Doug Salzmann on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 10:22:20 PM
Doug, do you believe that China, Russia, N. Korea ... by Roberto Benitez on Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:03:35 PM
Click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37c106... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 12:15:44 AM
Robert Phillips (above) has it right. War and tech... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 12:21:26 AM
Kevin, so you believe that Bush and Cheney were be... by Roberto Benitez on Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:05:23 PM
I always have thought that the most sophisticated ... by Ned Lud on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 7:35:28 AM
Think about how many computers are generated in th... by GES on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 11:30:18 AM
"Cyber is such a perfect prefix. Becau... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 1:05:40 PM
Daniel, most accept the following definition from ... by Roberto Benitez on Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:23:14 PM
Virtually everything of significance was published... by Richard Pietrasz on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:07:24 PM
9/11 and Israel, here: click here=SKU-000190526... by Lorring II on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:11:06 PM
Having done this dirty deed, both the US and Israe... by Archie on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 9:27:09 PM