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Author Topic: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references  (Read 4135 times)

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Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« on: September 30, 2010, 11:53:27 PM »
http://www.cnbc.com/id/39435594

Fascinating really. When I first heard the story break, I immediately imagined it had to be some sort of state sponsored effort. Now it seems likely it was indeed. Israel. This effort, along with other subterfuge we know nothing about likely, seems to be the best last route to foiling Iran's efforts.

It is at least much preferable to any kind of overt military action, such as a naval and air blockade of some fashion.

I've also though it would be wise to ensure Iranian citizens have the capability to broadcast outside the country, such as we saw what 2 years ago with Twitter, and what not. Anything we can do to foil the regime's effort to stifle those sort of things we should be doing.

Offline Wolfy

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2010, 12:18:57 AM »
If Only we could mobilize 4chan...Iran would be shut down within days. O-o

Offline Oniya

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Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2010, 02:02:19 AM »
The 'calling card' is a bit on the sketchy side.  One of the commenters even suggested MYRTUS could translate to 'My RTUs', meaning 'Remote Terminal Units', (something that would be relevant in commandeering nuclear facilities), rather than going from Esther, to her original name of Hadassah, which supposedly sounds like the Hebrew word for myrtle.  (I don't think that I can lay hands on an annotated Hebrew text to confirm that.  Not at the moment anyways.)

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Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2010, 04:16:30 AM »
This wasn't Israel.  Nobody is entirely sure who is doing this yet, but the Israelis tend to focus much more on somewhat more direct methods of problem solving.  If Iran suddenly exploded for no apparent reason, then I'd buy Israel.

In addition, Iran isn't the only country that's been hit by this virus.  Israel might be twitchy involving Iran, but they have much less reason to go after, for instance, China.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2010, 07:20:32 AM »
This wasn't Israel.  Nobody is entirely sure who is doing this yet, but the Israelis tend to focus much more on somewhat more direct methods of problem solving.  If Iran suddenly exploded for no apparent reason, then I'd buy Israel.

In addition, Iran isn't the only country that's been hit by this virus.  Israel might be twitchy involving Iran, but they have much less reason to go after, for instance, China.

Just because the virus hit other countries than Iran doesn't mean it wasn't Israel. Put a virus into the 'wild' and it will spread how it will spread. You'd have little control of where it went. One may 'target' an entity but it seems plausible to me it would spread quickly beyond the intended target too.

No, we can't know for sure it was Israel, but as the article says, they do have a substantial cyber warfare center. Personally I think the chances are pretty good it was them. But hey, that's just my opinion.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2010, 10:06:21 PM »
If someone creates a virus and stamps it with your name, address, and place of birth does that make it yours?

Tracing viral origins by competent people is an extremely tricky affair. The virus apparently got into Iran through Russian contractors. That... doesn't tell us a whole lot. There are at least two other countries who would rather that Iran not have a functioning nuclear program, who have the technical and industrial experience to pull this off. We might never know until an intelligence agency admits to it (and seriously, Seimens 'We recommend that you do not change the password from default as it may impact production'... wtf)

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2010, 10:12:12 PM »
If someone creates a virus and stamps it with your name, address, and place of birth does that make it yours?

Tracing viral origins by competent people is an extremely tricky affair. The virus apparently got into Iran through Russian contractors. That... doesn't tell us a whole lot. There are at least two other countries who would rather that Iran not have a functioning nuclear program, who have the technical and industrial experience to pull this off. We might never know until an intelligence agency admits to it (and seriously, Seimens 'We recommend that you do not change the password from default as it may impact production'... wtf)

For sure, we'll never know 100% certain. But sure seems likely to me.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2010, 10:20:15 PM »
I think I can  name a handful of countries in the immediate area who would LOVE to keep their lovely neighbors out of the Nuclear Club and have access to cybercriminals who do this sort of thing all the time. And another handful in the west BESIDES the US.

Truth be told, I see a LOT of intelligence types seeing this as a pragmatic way to slow the Iranians down. I sure as well wouldn't want them to have a bomb if I was on the other side of the Gulf from them.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2010, 10:35:46 PM »
Hard to rule out a conspiracy, either.

My main issue with blaming Israel is - well. If a year ago you asked me "Which government will be the first to create a worm that focuses on disrupting industry and has a means of embedding itself in firmware." I'd probably make a list and it'd look like

1) Russia

...

This being the most sophisticated worm yet seen, and with them having the most experience by far.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2010, 10:47:40 PM »
I had no idea Russia is the viral valley of computer viruses. I thought that distinction belonged to pimple faced Scandinavians holed up in their parents' basements.

But whoever did it, if they even did it by design in attempt to foil Iran's efforts, bravo I say. Though it certainly isn't a silver bullet.

Offline Stormie

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2010, 10:57:15 PM »
what virus is this may i ask

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2010, 11:00:18 PM »
Hard to rule out a conspiracy, either.

My main issue with blaming Israel is - well. If a year ago you asked me "Which government will be the first to create a worm that focuses on disrupting industry and has a means of embedding itself in firmware." I'd probably make a list and it'd look like

1) Russia

...

This being the most sophisticated worm yet seen, and with them having the most experience by far.

You can add a few more to that list.

2 China
3 North/South Korea

Both groups I tossed in are very pragmatic  in their outlook. I can see either Korea (and possibly Taiwan) doing something like that..and China would.

BUT none of them have interests taht run counter to a nuclear Iran. Now, Pakistan might..and there was for a long while a pervasive Hacker Culture there.. and ditto to Indian (another nearby country who would dislike a Nuke in the hands of the Loonies of the Gulf)

Offline Vekseid

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2010, 11:19:39 PM »
I had no idea Russia is the viral valley of computer viruses. I thought that distinction belonged to pimple faced Scandinavians holed up in their parents' basements.

But whoever did it, if they even did it by design in attempt to foil Iran's efforts, bravo I say. Though it certainly isn't a silver bullet.

Eastern Europe is. You drive smart people to desperation and smart people will do desperate things, and they have had two decades to refine their practice. But the only one with significant potential state ties is Russia and the Russian Business Network.

Outside of Eastern Europe, the primary cyber espionage power is China, of course.

You can add a few more to that list.

2 China
3 North/South Korea

Both groups I tossed in are very pragmatic  in their outlook. I can see either Korea (and possibly Taiwan) doing something like that..and China would.

BUT none of them have interests taht run counter to a nuclear Iran. Now, Pakistan might..and there was for a long while a pervasive Hacker Culture there.. and ditto to Indian (another nearby country who would dislike a Nuke in the hands of the Loonies of the Gulf)

Worm design is something only a few governments have direct experience with, or access to said experience. The same goes for firmware loading - that's a clever trick to do without bricking what you're working on. Whoever did this also had a clear picture of how Iran operated, which limits the spectrum quite a ways.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2010, 11:27:28 PM »
Eastern Europe is. You drive smart people to desperation and smart people will do desperate things, and they have had two decades to refine their practice. But the only one with significant potential state ties is Russia and the Russian Business Network.

Outside of Eastern Europe, the primary cyber espionage power is China, of course.

Worm design is something only a few governments have direct experience with, or access to said experience. The same goes for firmware loading - that's a clever trick to do without bricking what you're working on. Whoever did this also had a clear picture of how Iran operated, which limits the spectrum quite a ways.

I figure for the firmware work there are maybe a dozen groups world wide with the knowledge and skill to do it, and I'm willing to bet not even half of them could put it in place on their own. I could see some of them being paid to design it by another party.. who could have access to the skills to put in place.

Of course the NSA and the European equivalents could do it easily. I don't honestly see a US agency having the moxie to do it these days. Well at least not officially, someone back room cowboy might try it..

This isn't something that was thrown together in a weekend planning session.  This took some time, effort, and money to do. LOTS of it. That points to an intelligence group first hand.

Offline Jaybee

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2010, 04:56:54 PM »
Given their doubtless rigourous methods of data decentralisation, I doubt this worm will slow them down. 

I should add, Iran's nuclear program is every pacifist's nightmare - I am torn between supporting a sovereign nation's right to bear nuclear arms, and hoping they never do.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2010, 05:33:38 PM »
They would use it as a club to get what they want.  Syria, Turkey, Egypt are all moderate Islamic states in their religious outlook, Iran would threaten them to get leverage and position. Isreal would catch one eventually for sure. The gulf states would be blackmailed outright.  Anyone that threatens the Iranian take on Islam would be as likely a target as western interests.

It would be a big step towards the Ayatollas and their front men to forcing an Islamic union of states of their liking.

Iran would be as bad as North Korea with a nuke and in a better position to use it. In addition to oil they have natural stocks of uranium. It would be a nightmare to anyone that who disagrees with Tehran on anything more important than the choice of cereals for breakfast.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2010, 10:35:14 PM »
They would use it as a club to get what they want.  Syria, Turkey, Egypt are all moderate Islamic states in their religious outlook, Iran would threaten them to get leverage and position. Isreal would catch one eventually for sure. The gulf states would be blackmailed outright.  Anyone that threatens the Iranian take on Islam would be as likely a target as western interests.

It would be a big step towards the Ayatollas and their front men to forcing an Islamic union of states of their liking.

Iran would be as bad as North Korea with a nuke and in a better position to use it. In addition to oil they have natural stocks of uranium. It would be a nightmare to anyone that who disagrees with Tehran on anything more important than the choice of cereals for breakfast.

Countries that get nuclear weapons tend to get a healthy dose of sanity very quickly. Until Obama revised the engagement rules (and with regard to nukes, they still apply as before), if you make use of a nuclear weapon on an ally's soil, it is treated as a nuclear attack on the United States directly, the consequence of which will be complete and utter nuclear annihilation.

On the converse, the United States gives away technology for nuclear safety mechanisms. Even to Iran. This also helps reduce the need for the recipient country to perform negative tests, so that at least is win-win.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2010, 11:52:28 PM »
Countries that get nuclear weapons tend to get a healthy dose of sanity very quickly.

That is quite a gamble I'd say. Exhibit A: Pakistan.

Quote
Until Obama revised the engagement rules (and with regard to nukes, they still apply as before), if you make use of a nuclear weapon on an ally's soil, it is treated as a nuclear attack on the United States directly, the consequence of which will be complete and utter nuclear annihilation.

In respects to NATO allies this has always been true, nuclear attack or no. Or, if you're saying Obama 'changed' that rule, I'd be skeptical that he alone would have the authority to do that. NATO members would have to vote on that as a unit. Unless I completely missed your point?

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2010, 12:22:46 AM »
Countries that get nuclear weapons tend to get a healthy dose of sanity very quickly. Until Obama revised the engagement rules (and with regard to nukes, they still apply as before), if you make use of a nuclear weapon on an ally's soil, it is treated as a nuclear attack on the United States directly, the consequence of which will be complete and utter nuclear annihilation.

On the converse, the United States gives away technology for nuclear safety mechanisms. Even to Iran. This also helps reduce the need for the recipient country to perform negative tests, so that at least is win-win.

I don't think the ruling clerics will let ANYONE tell them what to do. And I sincerly doubt that the current administration and congress would respond in kind if Isreal got nuked. I'm sorry, I don't see Nancy Pelosi doing anything but wring her hands.

And I very much doubt detonating a nuke will make the ruling clerics in Iran sane. I don't think they see things in the same cultural context as the western countries. They get a nuke, they'll treat it as just another 'big gun' to threaten folks with.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2010, 04:04:58 PM »
That is quite a gamble I'd say. Exhibit A: Pakistan.

Yes, look at their leadership before and after they got nukes.

Their populace is less so, but genuine US government incompetence rears its head again. We had the perfect opportunity to rectify that situation a few months ago, too, during the floods.

If you make people desperate, they will do desperate things.

Quote
In respects to NATO allies this has always been true, nuclear attack or no. Or, if you're saying Obama 'changed' that rule, I'd be skeptical that he alone would have the authority to do that. NATO members would have to vote on that as a unit. Unless I completely missed your point?

It has to do with reworking the treaty with regards to biological weapons. Pulling chemical weapons off of the nuclear response table is one thing, but saying "We might do it with this class of weapons" rather than an explicit yes or no creates uncertainty and that's not the sort of thing we like to have in policy making.

I don't think the ruling clerics will let ANYONE tell them what to do. And I sincerly doubt that the current administration and congress would respond in kind if Isreal got nuked. I'm sorry, I don't see Nancy Pelosi doing anything but wring her hands.

The ruling clerics are not stupid. It's not like they disbelieve in nuclear weapons.

And it is not Congress's decision to launch or prevent the launching of nukes. The only way for the Congressional branch to prevent a nuclear retaliation would be to declare a preemptive impeachment process of some sort.

Quote
And I very much doubt detonating a nuke will make the ruling clerics in Iran sane. I don't think they see things in the same cultural context as the western countries. They get a nuke, they'll treat it as just another 'big gun' to threaten folks with.

Pakistan didn't.

American policy does not fuck around on that score. If you launch nuclear weapons, you will be destroyed.

End of story.

Your fate is sealed the moment that weapon detonates on foreign soil. North Korea launches a nuke at Japan, Japan has no say in whether or not nuclear retaliation occurs. China has no say. Russia has no say. South Korea has no say.

Same goes for Iran. Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia - none of them have even the pull that Congress does, which is effectively zero.

No one wants to see these weapons used, ever again, and a part of that means a guaranteed destruction for anyone crazy enough to use them. They are purely a defensive arrangement, raising the cost of an attack of them. Attacking someone else with them, as it stands, is suicide.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2010, 04:57:11 PM »
Yes, look at their leadership before and after they got nukes.

Their populace is less so, but genuine US government incompetence rears its head again. We had the perfect opportunity to rectify that situation a few months ago, too, during the floods.

If you make people desperate, they will do desperate things.

http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0810_pakistan/

Has our response be inadequate? Can the third world nations have it both ways: Stay out of our country and business, but if disaster strikes, you sure as hell better be here to bail us out! Or are you referring to something else entirely? I recall hearing something about the Taliban threatening the populace if they accepted help from the West.

Quote
It has to do with reworking the treaty with regards to biological weapons. Pulling chemical weapons off of the nuclear response table is one thing, but saying "We might do it with this class of weapons" rather than an explicit yes or no creates uncertainty and that's not the sort of thing we like to have in policy making.

If it makes our enemies uncomfortable, guessing at what we may or may not do, I like that idea better than putting all our cards on the table.


Quote
American policy does not fuck around on that score. If you launch nuclear weapons, you will be destroyed.

End of story.

As it should be!

Offline Vekseid

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2010, 11:07:31 PM »
http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0810_pakistan/

Has our response be inadequate? Can the third world nations have it both ways: Stay out of our country and business, but if disaster strikes, you sure as hell better be here to bail us out! Or are you referring to something else entirely? I recall hearing something about the Taliban threatening the populace if they accepted help from the West.

The third world hardly sees America as staying out of their own business.

Western aid to Pakistan is vastly dwarfed by the speed and magnitude of the response to the Haiti Earthquake and the tsunami, in comparison to the number of people affected.

The geographical region devastated is roughly comparable with the size of the US Eastern seaboard. The area underwater at one point was roughly the size of Wisconsin.

Quote
If it makes our enemies uncomfortable, guessing at what we may or may not do, I like that idea better than putting all our cards on the table.

No. They should not wonder at our judgment call about whether or not they can get away with a given biological weapon, and make that attempt during a weak administration.

This is going to become rather more critical as the ability for a single disgruntled person to inflict worldwide harm increases over the next century. Slaying the evildoers, as some put it, while doing nothing about the situation that generated them puts us in Israel's situation writ global - they recover while we expend resources. That attitude no longer wins wars. The threat of a biological holocaust is probably the greatest threat we have ever and will ever face.

Quote
As it should be!

I don't think it's something worth being enthusiastic about. It's best left as one of those robotic lines that humans in general agree not to be the first to cross.

Offline Ojokernegro

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2010, 12:33:55 PM »
So wait...this is an "all vs Iran" topic of sorts? I read half of it, but I couldn't quite grasp your stance on the matter.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2010, 03:33:07 PM »
So wait...this is an "all vs Iran" topic of sorts? I read half of it, but I couldn't quite grasp your stance on the matter.

Well, they do pretty much stand alone. If China or Russia seems supportive of Iran, its only for their own reasons I am sure.

My stance: Short of more aggressive and military escalations, subterfuge and cyber warfare seems like the next best option to keep Iran from becoming a larger danger to its neighbors, the region and ultimately the rest of the world. And best it affords some plausible deniability, where as overt military involvement wouldn't.

Specifically I'd like to see a means to thwart their government from blocking Internet traffic in or out of Iran, e.g. twitter, Facebook, etc.

Offline Ojokernegro

Re: Computer worm hits Iranian nuclear facilities, biblical references
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2010, 12:14:14 AM »
Well, they do pretty much stand alone. If China or Russia seems supportive of Iran, its only for their own reasons I am sure.

My stance: Short of more aggressive and military escalations, subterfuge and cyber warfare seems like the next best option to keep Iran from becoming a larger danger to its neighbors, the region and ultimately the rest of the world. And best it affords some plausible deniability, where as overt military involvement wouldn't.

Specifically I'd like to see a means to thwart their government from blocking Internet traffic in or out of Iran, e.g. twitter, Facebook, etc.

So you personally do not like Iran because to you it is a dangerous nations that is to stopped. I see. Do you mind if I ask you where you're from? Not a question you have to answer, I'll understand if you do mind.