How digital detectives deciphered Stuxnet

Wed, 2011-07-13 20:13 by admin

Satellite image of the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in Iran taken in 2002 when it was still under construction. The image shows two cascade halls, in the upper right corner, as they were being built deep underground. The hall on the left, Hall A, is the only one currently operational and is the building where centrifuges believed to have been damaged by Stuxnet in 2009 were installed. (Photo: DigitalGlobe and Institute for Science and International Security)
Satellite image of the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in Iran

How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History


By Klm Zetter  July 11, 2011  |  7:00 am  |  Categories: Stuxnet

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It was January 2010, and investigators with the International Atomic Energy Agency had just completed an inspection at the uranium enrichment plant outside Natanz in central Iran, when they realized that something was off within the cascade rooms where thousands of centrifuges were enriching uranium.

Natanz technicians in white lab coats, gloves and blue booties were scurrying in and out of the “clean” cascade rooms, hauling out unwieldy centrifuges one by one, each sheathed in shiny silver cylindrical casings.

Any time workers at the plant decommissioned damaged or otherwise unusable centrifuges, they were required to line them up for IAEA inspection to verify that no radioactive material was being smuggled out in the devices before they were removed. The technicians had been doing so now for more than a month.

Normally Iran replaced up to 10 percent of its centrifuges a year, due to material defects and other issues. With about 8,700 centrifuges installed at Natanz at the time, it would have been normal to decommission about 800 over the course of the year.

But when the IAEA later reviewed footage from surveillance cameras installed outside the cascade rooms to monitor Iran’s enrichment program, they were stunned as they counted the numbers. The workers had been replacing the units at an incredible rate—later estimates would indicate between 1,000 and 2,000 centrifuges were swapped out over a few months.

The question was, why? …

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The computer virus Stuxnet

Sat, 2011-10-22 06:44 by AllisonM

The computer virus Stuxnet has been hard for many computer experts to determine. In 2010, it infected nuclear control systems in Iran. Industrial control computer systems in Europe have been contaminated with a new virus. The Duqu virus does not seem to have direct impact, but mines for information that could be used for additional attacks. I read this here: Duqu virus uses Stuxnet DNA to mine industrial data.

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