While many things are unknown about Stuxnet, what is known is that it marks a critical change in cyber war. So much so that Kaspersky labs describes it as “a prototype of a cyber-weapon that will lead to the creation of a new arms race.” While some may say this is far fetched, this would not be the first time that cyber warfare has been conducted. A few such instances include:
* Syberia – SCADA Pipeline Explosion – 1982
* Estonia – DDoS – 2007
* Syria – Operation Orchard – 2007
* Georgia – DDoS – 2008
* USA Government Sites – DDoS – 2009
The malware was developed to attack Siemens AG’s industrial control systems. These supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems are used to monitor automated systems such as refinery, chemical, power generation, and food facilities. The worm has the ability to travel by USB thumb drive until finding its intended target and at that time, start manipulating the settings of the targeted systems.
Such attacks would result in damage, downtime, and denial of service (DoS) of the intended target. So far, most of the systems affected by Stuxnet are located in Iran.
Some news sources have stated that the worm’s obvious target was Iran’s nuclear reactors. Further analysis of the worm should help clarify its intended target.