US, Israel Target Iran’s Nuclear Program Using Stuxnet, Experts Say

Bob Styran, IT audit expert
January 16, 2011 /

Stuxnet, a malicious computer program that uses the Siemens Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) identified by the Iranian government in June 2010 as a platform to launch attacks into its nuclear program, comes from the joint effort of USA and Israel, the New York Times reported quoting experts from US military and officials.

New York Times reported that intelligence officials from the US military confirmed that Dimona, Israel has been the nest of a joint operation by the US and Israeli governments to test the effectiveness of Stuxnet malware before launching it against Iran. A US expert said that “to check out the worm, you have to know the machines…the reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”

However, Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Reza Taqipour downplayed reports that Stuxnet has affected the country’s industrial sites, saying Iran’s computers “are no longer facing threats” and that Stuxnet malware “wormed its way into industrial systems via flash memories and not through networks.”

Israel allegedly created its own nuclear centrifuges at Dimona similar to the one designed by Iran at Natanz to make its own bomb. Before Stuxnet was run to destroy a large part of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, the US and Israeli officials assessed Stuxnet’s effectiveness by applying it onto their imitated nuclear centrifuges, experts said.

Siemens admitted that a program was carried out to ensure security of its products from hackers, which, according to these experts, subsequently gave the Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory the chance to look into several vulnerabilities of the system that enabled Stuxnet to breach all the way to Iran’s industrial sites, putting its operations on hold until 2015.

Stuxnet, while sending the nuclear centrifuges to an uncontrollable revolution, also sent a recorded footage of normal operations to the plant operators as if nothing was happening. Another findings revealed that Stuxnet has sent commands to 984 inter-connected machines.

Ralph Langner, the CEO of network security provider Langner Communications which analyzed Stuxnet malware, wrote on his website that the computer worm was designed to attack a single system by intercepting code from Simatic Manager to the Programmable Logic Controller.

Langner determined based from speculation that the intended target was Iran’s Bushehr plant, arguing that the delays experienced by the plant which runs the SCADA system few months after Stuxnet emerged were probable evidence.


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