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Stuxnet: How It Happened And How Your Enterprise Can Avoid Similar Attacks

A look back at one of the industry's most complex attacks--and the lessons it teaches.

[Excerpted from "Stuxnet Reality Check: Are You Prepared For A Similar Attack," a new report posted this week on the Dark Reading Advanced Threats Tech Center.]

Iranian nuclear facilities, zero-day exploits, secret operatives and nation-state government involvement sounds more like the backstory to a spy novel than a piece of malware. Yet Stuxnet, the most researched and analyzed malware ever, is still being studied and discussed in security circles around the world--even though it was discovered more than a year ago.

You probably don’t operate a nuclear facility, so why should you care about a piece of software that targeted specific centrifuge models in particular nuclear plants in another part of the world? Simply put, Stuxnet made cybernightmares reality and changed the security world forever--while simultaneously bringing to light the high risks associated with the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks that control operations within many energy and utility companies.

How would a Stuxnet-like attack affect your enterprise--and what can you do to stop it? Let's take a look.

First, why should you be concerned? A recent Ponemon Institute report, "State of IT Security: Study of Utilities and Energy Companies," shows that protecting SCADA systems is clearly the highest security objectives within these companies, and the most difficult to achieve. For companies that run SCADA networks, Stuxnet shows the harm a determined, highly skilled attacker with ample resources might do.

For the rest of us, while there are comparisons that could be made between private networks and SCADA networks, the risks are not the same. So, your best bet is to understand how Stuxnet works, its intent and, most importantly, why it was able to be somewhat successful, to understand the potential next-generation of malware that will attack your network.

Stuxnet was used in a targeted attack on five organizations in June and July 2009 and March, April, and May 2010, all five of which have a presence in Iran. The targeting of specific companies is what sets Stuxnet apart from the traditional advanced persistent threat.

Read the rest of this article on Dark Reading.

Yes, you can stay safe in the cloud. In this Tech Center report, we explain the risks and guide you in setting appropriate cloud security policies, processes, and controls. Download the report now. (Free with registration.)

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