Update: In an article published by the BBC, it now seems that the US and Israel were behind Stuxnet. Read Article.

Labeled as

... the first (Malware) to target the industrial equipment used in power plants and other large scale installations.

; this seemingly innocuous story caught my attention last Friday (Nov 19th).

A "Worm" made of three distinct components; a very complex ability to control PLC's (Programmable Logic Controllers) used in large scale industrial applications, an ability to distribute and replicate itself and lastly a method for it's creators to communicate with it.

What makes the story interesting though is the implications that it brings about if true. The article goes on to claim that the programming logic left behind several important clues in tracing it's origins. Tom Parker of security firm Securicon went on to suggest that the PLC component was possibly the work of a contracted coder from the West whilst the latter 2 components that dealt with distribution and control were added later with less advanced code, implying that the Worm was the work of "a Western nation" rather than high-tech criminals.

Arousing the conspirator in me you could debate several conclusions. The implications: A "Western nation" contracted PLC programming logic from a third-party and then developed it's own distribution and control logic. PLC logic has the potential to control the operation of pumps and motors in large industrial scale applications; most notably centrifuges, an important component in Uranium enrichment.

Referred to as "Stuxnet", the Worm has since been associated with Iran's continuing Uranium enrichment problems. Now think about it. Most NATO countries (particularly Western countries) have issues with Iran pursuing Uranium enrichment citing a possible nuclear weapons program as the real reason for it's continuing nuclear program. A Western nation has been suspected of contracting the PLC component and it's method of distribution.

Could a Western nation be trying to sabotage Iran's ability to successfully enrich Uranium? Recently Western nation's have become very nervous of Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs. Only just today the U.S. sent Stephen Bosworth as "Special Representative for North Korea Policy" to North Korea to investigate claims of a possible North Korea/Iranian connection.

The U.S. is openly public about it's skepticism towards North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs, so much so that sanctions and embargoes were levied on Iran.

Is this Malware a contracted attempt to ensure that a "Western nation" could retain control over the debatable intent of other nations nuclear enrichment programs? To spy on other nations nuclear programs?

Could Iran or North Korea have planted this Malware themselves to grow momentum and support against the West's over site of their nuclear programs?

Whilst Iran and North Korea are a decade or more, I hope, away from Uranium enrichment and "plausible" nuclear weapons, it stills makes me a little nervous of the outcome if these implications are true. Could we have another potential Cold War era?

We can all take a guess as to where the U.S's largest satellite, launched today and, ironically, replacing "a slew of Cold War-era satellites", will be heading! : -)

Further Reading