What is Stuxnet? to understand we first have to have a clear background of the nuclear program in Iran and it’s regional implication. As such, in the 1950s, under the Atoms For Peace program, the USA provided Iran technical training and a small experimental nuclear reactor.
This program continued on until 1979 where Iran declared that they will not have any nuclear power program and thus shuttered its nuclear power program. However in just 5 years, due to the hostile environment around Iran, they would begin learning nuclear weapon capability from Russia and China which in turn caused an escalating tension with the United Nation.
With negotiation planned, the USA then had to find a way to delay the nuclear program without causing an all-out-war. Thus came Stuxnet, the cyber weapon that’ll buy enough time for diplomacy and sanctions to work
Head by the National Security Agency of USA, the main goal of Stuxnet was to penetrated the computer used by the Iran Nuclear program and deliberately destroy the Nuclear Centrifuges needed to produce Nuclear Weapon.
Why the Centrifuges if one asked? It’s because Centrifuges are the most delicate item to target, any miscalculation or power outage will in turn cause the centrifuges the tear itself apart.
In order for Stuxnet to ruin that, the attack is being split into different stages. Firstly, a beacon will be inserted into different network and enrichment nuclear program who will then completely scan the network and send the data back to the NSA with all the network security detail and what are the centrifuges connected to the network.
Secondly, the NSA will start to edit the Stuxnet malware code in accordance to the detail provided by the beacon which will then be inserted back into the network where it’ll stay dormant, monitoring the day to day activity before finally going active.
Finally, when it goes active. the virus will mimic a fake normal operation to the personnel monitoring the system. and start to cause the centrifuges behind to go crazy and tear itself apart.
So there you go, this is how one Cyber Weapon actually saved the world from an all out nuclear war with Iran.
If you think that you may be a victim of some kind of Cyber attack, feel free to check out our blog to stay up to date on how to protect yourself from cyber attack.