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“there is always an idiot around who doesn’t think much about the thumb drive in their hand”

Stuxnet, the worm created by the US and Israel for breaking down Iran’s nuclear plant Natanz got out of their control

An article published today in the New York Times shows that the Stuxnet virus-written and deployed by the US and Israeli government-targeting the Iranian nuclear plant Natanz got out in the wild. It seems that the purpose of the code was to set back the Iranian nuclear research program by commanding the control hardware responsible for the spin rate of the centrifuge equipment. The important aspect of this is the fact that the worm only targeted this specific nuclear plant, it was never intended to spread on the Internet.

The network at Natanz is air-gapped, which made it very difficult for the people who made the plan to introduce the code into the network. They needed someone with physical access to the site to get the worm inside through thumb drives (this is also the manner how the first versions of the worm were distributed). To quote one of the architects of the plan: ‘It turns out there is always an idiot around who doesn’t think much about the thumb drive in their hand.’

The way Stuxnet spread outside Natanz’s network is most probably on a laptop. Fortunately, security researchers were able to annihilate it.