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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/16/11

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?
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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

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He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet (more...)

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