Iran Nuclear Program: Stuxnet Subcontext

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 @ 04:01 PM gHale


During the Tuesday State of the Union address, President Obama also talked about the slowdown of Iran’s nuclear program, which has a Stuxnet subcontext.

“Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict,” Obama said in the address.

Iran’s nuclear program suffered a severe halt in 2010 when Stuxnet, a sophisticated piece of computer malware designed to sabotage industrial processes controlled by Siemens SIMATIC WinCC and PCS 7 control systems, infiltrated the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. The worm used known and previously unknown vulnerabilities to install, infect and propagate, and was powerful enough to evade state-of-the-art security technologies and procedures. ISSSource reported the program was a joint effort between the U.S. and Israel.

The worm used at least four Zero Day exploits and had Microsoft Windows driver modules signed using genuine cryptographic certificates stolen from respectable companies, contained about 4,000 functions, and utilized advanced anti-analysis techniques to render reverse engineering difficult.

Stuxnet had its true origin in the waning moments of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2009, said former senior intelligence officials, one of whom worked for the National Intelligence office, according to an ISSSource report.

At the time, President Bush wanted to sabotage the electrical and computer systems at Natanz, which is a fuel enrichment plant in Iran. After Bush left office, President Obama accelerated the program, these sources said.

Obama’s Tuesday address went on to say, “There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.”

Going to war is one thing, but what about cyber war?

— Gregory Hale



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