I just read an awesome article in Vanity Fair by Michael Joseph Gross about the incredible Stuxnet worm that targeted nuclear enrichment facilities in Iran as a form of international cyber war. At the time of Stuxnet, malware’s previous heavyweight champion, the Conficker worm, was only one-twentieth the size of this new threat.
Really interesting tho, was the angle at the end about how they still couldn't figure out which nation (Isreal or USA most likely) produced the advanced piece of sofware that would have required 10 to 20 people years worth of man-hours to create. This thing had stolen software signatures, encrypted payload, and a sort of device matching profile thingy able to only target the right kind of PLC from Siemens used in the factory.
The downside of the Stuxnet tho, could be to give more ammunition to other virus creators or to turn the gun on some other target. This would be because PLCs (programmable logic controllers) are very widely used in factories and all kinds of industrial processes. It might open up a new range of industrial cyber-extortion, as presumably, with some re-working of the code one could try to target other factories that used this gear. Then again, each new device is going to need some PLC code written for it so its still quite hard to do.
The full 8 page (!) article is here:
Posted by tomachi on April 10th, 2011 filed in Technology