Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cyber War on Iran Begins

It looks like Israel may have found another way to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. The question then becomes: "Will this be enough?"

"Iran's nuclear agency battles virus that can bring down power plants"

Iranian media reports said Friday that the country's nuclear agency is trying to combat a complex computer worm that has affected industrial sites in Iran and is capable of taking over power plants.

The computer virus, which attacks a widely used industrial system, appears aimed mostly at Iran and its sophistication suggests a state may have been involved in creating it, Western cyber security companies said earlier in the day.

Kevin Hogan, Senior Director of Security Response at Symantec, told Reuters 60 percent of the computers worldwide infected by the so-called Stuxnet worm were in Iran, indicating industrial plants in that country were the target.

"Stuxnet is a working and fearsome prototype of a cyber-weapon that will lead to the creation of a new arms race in the world," it said in a statement about the virus, which attacks Siemens AG's widely used industrial control systems.

The companies' remarks are the latest in a series of specialist commentary stirring speculation that Iran's first nuclear power station, at Bushehr, may have been targeted in a state-backed attempt at sabotage or espionage.

"It's pretty clear that based on the infection behavior that installations in Iran are being targeted," Hogan said of the virus.

Related articles:

"Worm hits worker's computers ar Iran nuclear plant"

The computer worm, dubbed Stuxnet, can take over systems that control the inner workings of industrial plants. Experts in Germany discovered the worm in July, and it has since shown up in a number of attacks — primarily in Iran, Indonesia, India and the US.

The ISNA report said the malware had spread throughout Iran, but did not name specific sites affected.

"Cyber War on Iran: the Siemens Connection"

Yesterday, I wrote some preliminary words about this highly sophisticated attack by the so-called “Stuxnet” worm; today we learn the startling news the Iranians themselves have admitted that something serious has happened. Such admissions are certainly not common from the secretive state. From Asia Bizz:

The Iranian Ministry has stated that some 30000 industrial computers have been infected by Stuxnet. One of the main operations done by Stuxnet is that it extracts vital information from these systems and then sends it somewhere abroad. Iran has termed this virus as a spy virus, as it is deploying vital data to other countries. On the other hand it is said, a similar attack has been reported from Iran’s latest nuclear power plant facility, but these reports have not yet been confirmed.

Three-thousand industrial computers … what industries and how extensive the damage is Iran isn’t saying. But we can hazard the guess that most of it is militarily related. Besides the ability to send information abroad, “Stuxnet” is reportedly able to commandeer computers and direct them to destroy what they are managing. If true, this changes the face of warfare.

This is very interesting news. The extent of this virus and the long-term effects are anyone's guess at this point, but it is most definitely worth watching as more information will probably be leaking out in the coming weeks.

In other news:

"Are We in the 9th Year of a 10-year Hudna"

If you are not familiar with the concept of "Hudna", then this article is worth reading.

But a chill ran through me this month when I realized that September 2010 might be more than just another anniversary of the 2001 savagery. According to Islamic law, 2010 could be the start of the ninth year of a 10-year hudna. So, what is a ‘hudna' and what is so special about the ninth year of an Islamic terror standoff?

A ‘hudna' is a temporary peace entered into by an Islamic force when it is weaker than its enemy. Its purpose is to buy the Islamic side time to rearm and regroup. But don't think of it as a ceasefire as Westerners understand the concept, because there are fundamental differences.

First, according to Islamic thought, the Muslim side is entitled to break the hudna at any time without giving notice to its adversary. However, the non-Muslim side is entitled to no such change of mind.

"If I take an oath and later find something else better, I do what is better and break my oath," Muhammad said. "If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better."

Second, 10 years is the longest time authorized for a hudna before the Islamic side is obliged to resume making war. And since the last Islamic assault on Washington and New York, our political and economic capitals, respectively, we have now passed the nine-year mark.

If this "Hudna" applies, then we are rapidly approaching the 10-year mark. This too is something worth watching closely as the end date approaches.


Anonymous said...

Wow, two very remarkable articles today though you have been hitting it out of the ballpark every day.
The attack on Iran's nuclear facilities via virus is especially interesting as Israel might just have found a non violent way to take them offline for quite a while. Might just explain why nothing happened when the fuel rods were added. Will be watching this one with great interest.


Scott said...

Me too Kem - This virus thing is fascinating - especially - one of the articles was dicsussing how the virus actually allows the computers to be taken over by the virus - which is amazing. It will be very interesting to see where this goes.