Could the Stuxnet virus really start a cyberwar?

Enterprise Technology

It has been called the ‘first weaponised virus’ and has brought down nuclear power plants, so on the first anniversary of its discovery we examine Stuxnet, what exactly is it, and how dangerous can it be?

Before we start talking about the Stuxnet virus and how it can be, and is being, used as a weapon have a look at this video which clearly outlines just how destructive the virus is.

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus

This isn’t fiction, its real and very dangerous; the virus has already attacked Nuclear Facilities in Iran and has infected many more  systems according to Symantec and because the original source code of these ‘Controller Viruses’ has been released to the public online it is now accessible to anyone with a bit of coding knowledge.  This means that these viruses have the ability to hit close to home: making hyper-connected states such as Europe, the U.S and Japan perfect targets.

Indeed, in June this year the Pentagon stated that any hacking attempt against the US should be seen as “an act of war.”

Viral Mutation 

What scares me personally is the evolution of the Stuxnet virus with the creation of different variants. This means that the virus’s code is being altered to target different facilities and targets.

The even scarier part is when it comes in to the hands of hackers and coders that don’t really have a clue about the impact of this virus. Bad coding might just affect every type of controller system in the world, spreading like wildfire to power plants, eletricity grids, (air)-traffic control systems, filtering plants and everything else that uses a controller.

Decoding Struxnet

Ralph Langner who is a German control system security consultant worked with his team on reverse engineering the Stuxnet code -this is what he said at his recent TED lecture.

My personal belief is that a Pandora’s box has been opened and now cyberwarfare will not only cost money but it will actually cause serious harm to people.

For more information you should see this 1 hour video in which Ralph Langner discusses Stuxnet and his concerns in further detail.

Scared yet? You probably should be.

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