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Risk

1/27/2011
12:25 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Russia To NATO: Investigate Stuxnet

The Stuxnet worm is alleged to have set back Iranian's controversial uranium enrichment program significantly. Now, the Russians are asking NATO to find some answers.

The Stuxnet worm is alleged to have set back Iranian's controversial uranium enrichment program significantly. Now, the Russians are asking NATO to find some answers.A number of news reports have quoted Dmitry Rogozin, Russian envoy to NATO, as asking NATO to investigate the Stuxnet incident.

Last week the New York Times ran this story speculating that the worm is (shockingly) a joint US-Israeli operation, that it had mixed success in hitting its targets, and that it is an ongoing attack:

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran's nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

The attacks were not fully successful: Some parts of Iran's operations ground to a halt, while others survived, according to the reports of international nuclear inspectors. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts who have examined the code believe it contains the seeds for yet more versions and assaults.

It's not clear, if in this Reuters' story, Rogozin is parroting what was read in the New York Times' story, or if he is confirming it with independent knowledge:

"The operators saw on their screens that the centrifuges were working normally when in fact they were out of control," Rogozin told reporters.

"NATO should get down to investigating this matter," he said. He said the worm could have sparked an event similar to the "Chernobyl tragedy," which blighted Ukraine in 1986.

"This virus, which is very toxic, very dangerous, could have very serious implications," he said, according to agency reports.

Good luck on getting the NATO investigation. And good luck figuring out – to any degree of certainty – who wrote Stuxnet.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

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