You can’t be friends with a squirrel. A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.
— Sarah Jessica Parker
Corporate white-hat hackers and the Mossad have set back Persian plans for nuclear bomb production by at least three years according to an article in today’s New York Times. Fact checking the Times puff piece on Stuxnet, a worm crafted for cyberwar on the Iranian nuclear establishment that targets Siemens equipment used to control centrifuges, led me to blogger Dawn Lim, so the time spent reading the fatuous nonsense from the Times wasn’t completely wasted.
Microsoft and other commercial antivirus vendors brought public attention to Stuxnet last July. The time required to develop the malware before it was dropped into the wild isn’t publicly known, but the US and Israel couldn’t have whipped it up overnight. In 2009 the flaws in Microsoft Windows exploited by the worm’s designers were brought to public attention. According to ABC, in July 2010 the worm first appeared in the wild in Belarus, a year after the Microsoft flaws were made public. The time lag between discovery of the Windows problem and the remedy suggests that the company was cooperating with the US and Israel while the worm was being developed.
Last September, Eric Byres reported that “…the Stuxnet malware attacks on Siemens Simatic WinCC SCADA and PCS7 DCS systems that came to light this past July were not the first time industrial control systems have been targeted by hackers.” Byres cites attacks going back to the early days of the Bush administration, including sabotage of Venezuela oil tanker loading control systems in the winter of 2002-2003. That sabotage coincided with efforts to destabilize the country and oust left wing leader Hugo Chavez.