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The Military Worms

New York Times Reports US and Israel Behind Stuxnet 406

Posted by timothy
from the alleged-shooter dept.
Oxford_Comma_Lover writes "Confirming heavy speculation in the Slashdot community, the New York Times reports that joint US-Israeli efforts were almost certainly behind the recent Stuxnet attack on Iran's nuclear program." The article stops just short of saying in so many words that Israeli is the doer, but leaves little doubt of its conclusion.
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New York Times Reports US and Israel Behind Stuxnet

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  • Still Speculative. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quick Reply (688867) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:23PM (#34894246) Journal

    They probably "almost certainly" did, but the NYT article is still just speculation. The haven't confirmed anything.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:23PM (#34894250) Journal

    It will considered an act of war resulting in the real thing, of course.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:30PM (#34894280)

    Because the NYT was unable to definitively blame the US & Israel, this is a huge disappointment to them and their fellow "blame the US" & Israel crowd.

  • by mother_reincarnated (1099781) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:31PM (#34894296)

    In this case whoever did it seems to have averted war at least for a few years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:37PM (#34894326)

    Exactly this.

    The new york times editors "almost certainly" rape little children on weekends.

    I guess this only goes to show, as long as it is a slow news day, they have no issues with me reporting that "fact" online for all to see.

  • by drolli (522659) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:48PM (#34894394) Journal

    Or you have to have spys in the Companies providing the parts. Siemens does not have a strong culture of being paranoid, especially not against western/pro-western secret services, with which they probably collaborate anyway when it comes to identifying industrial espionage from other services. I am pretty sure that the BND (German secret service) can ask them for plans and details quite openly (i guess you don't produce parts relevant for nuclear technology or military infrastructure without having liaison officer assigned to you), and probably also for the source code of the embedded SPS modules. For sure the same holds true for the manufacturer of the turbines. Since the Western secret services collaborate on an less prominent, informal level (see e.g. the BND agents in Baghdad during the war which reported back to the NATO headquarters, where obviously - no records exist - they helped clearing military targets in Iraq, despite Germany no being officially involved in the war).

    I would guess that actually several secret services collaborated in this, but the "Cui Bono?" points to Israel.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @11:57PM (#34894438)
    The US is not fighting a war in Iraq. The US is fighting an occupation. This is a significantly different task, one that the American Army is not designed for. The US Army is designed to crush, to destroy, to annihilate the enemy - and the US Army is possibly the best army in the world at this. Fighting an insurgency is a much different task - it requires completely different training, logistics, organization, even equipment. The two are as different as HTML and assembly language.

    The "war" part of Gulf War II was over in weeks. Very few conventional military forces can stand against the US, and none of those are in the Middle East. If the US launched a proper war (go in, kill every soldier, leave the country), the battle would last a few weeks. Think Poland in 1939 - I give Iran about a month of real Total War, before it collapses. And that's assuming the US doesn't use nukes - if it did, I give it about an hour before it becomes the Islamic Cinder Pile of Iran.
  • Confirming? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeV (7307) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @12:01AM (#34894460)

    Since when is the media considered factual confirmation? "Hey, let's all go out and look at the Inquirer to get proof that aliens exist!" While it is almost certain that the attack did originate from the suspected nations, a better wording would be, "supporting /* speculation" rather than "confirming" seeing as NYT is certainly not the fount of truth and honesty in reporting and fact-finding. Now excuse me while I go study on Wikipedia...

  • by Johnny Fusion (658094) <zenmondo AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 16, 2011 @12:22AM (#34894566) Homepage Journal
    Now albeit through anonymous sources that government powers are developing malware, how will it be either through legislation, treaty or "gentleman's agreement" that anti-virus software manufacturers will have to look the other way for certain payloads? Is this already happening? Certainly the Third Amendment tells us we don't have to use our homes to quarter soldiers, but will the government use its citizenry's hard drives and bandwidth to host a weapon?
  • by mother_reincarnated (1099781) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @12:46AM (#34894668)

    How much more direct could a confirmation be? The only question is the veracity of the anonymous source.

    They haven't gotten anyone who knows to confirm it... only people who are also speculating.

    Note that "an American expert in nuclear intelligence" would specifically not be someone who works in the gov't- If they could claim an anonymous official source they would.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @01:08AM (#34894782)

    They don't have nukes. But lets say, for argument's sake, that they develop them.

    First of all, any nuclear weapons that Iran develops are likely to be much smaller-scale than the weapons that have been rusting away in the US stockpiles since the 1950s. Fat Man and Little Boy were big bombs, but they aren't even close to the scale of the arms developed during the Cold War.

    Second, a nuclear Iran does not mean the difference between zero nuclear weapons and the stockpile that, say, Russia/Britain/India has. There's a recurring cost and a recurring development time.

    Third, and probably most importantly, Iran doesn't have the capacity to send long-range missiles. (This is also the case with North Korea.) They could nuke Israel, but not much further than that. The United States would not see any damage due to conventional deployment; the only way that Iran would be able to attack would be to supply terrorist groups.

    But then their country's ash. I don't have particularly high esteem for the Iranian leadership, but they're not stupid, they're not suicidal, and they understand MAD. So it's a moot point. The rationale for wanting nukes is pretty obvious: Iran is in a position where two of its neighbors got invaded in the past 10 years by the Americans, who they don't stand a chance against in a conventional war, and who have been rattling their sabers since 1979. I don't think Iran particularly cares about starting a war, the nuclear program is more of a deterrent against turning into Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @01:18AM (#34894814) Homepage Journal
    Where the article fails hopelessly is explaining what a three year delay actually buys us.
    It buys 3 years of defectors, active targeting of people and locations, export deal mindgames, hardware tracking, 3 more years of US aid, 3 years of stocking up on next generation US weapons. Politically it keeps the vision of 'evil' alive - Iran is building, only a strong unified political structure can do what it needed.
    Iran cannot trust MS or the basic EU hardware and will have to spend up big trying to buy parts and build at home.
    Iran is now playing the import game and is again wide open to more software issues.
  • by compucomp2 (1776668) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @01:38AM (#34894876)
    are either denying the obvious/equivocating ridiculously i.e. "this is not confirmation, so we can't take it as fact, even though it's almost certainly true" or flat out justifying the sabotage. If some Chinese hacker group (which would clearly be some shadow arm of the EVIL COMMUNIST PARTY) did this to an American government institution, the masses here would be calling for immediate war against China.

    The Western hypocrisy is strong with Slashdot, as it has always been. It loves to get on its soapbox and be sanctimonious when non-allied nations try to defend themselves against Western imperialism, but it's clear that when it's your team doing it, it's all good, just like in a sports match.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @01:52AM (#34894920) Homepage
    I think the whole case is one of "We can't prove it, but honestly, it doesn't take a genius to figure it out." Means, motive, and opportunity: what more are you looking for?
  • by Sun (104778) <shachar@shemesh.biz> on Sunday January 16, 2011 @01:58AM (#34894948) Homepage

    It still just might cause a war. Sure, Iran can't fight a war with the US, but it can (and probably will) fight Israel. THAT would be nasty.

    Iran is already fighting Israel. They do most of it by financing, supplying weapons (and using it to gain influence on) Hammas, but sometimes they use a direct agent (Hizbullah). If Israel is behind Stuxnet (no personal knowledge, but it makes sense that it is), then this is not "just cause for war". It is merely a battle in a war that is already ongoing (as is Iran's disregard for signing the no dissemination treaty, and so on and so forth).

    Shachar

  • The US Army is designed to crush, to destroy, to annihilate the enemy - and the US Army is possibly the best army in the world at this.

    Only the Vietnam People's Army surpasses them!

  • False dillema (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Arker (91948) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @02:41AM (#34895110) Homepage
    The third alternative would be to simply stop the provocative rhetoric and let them be.
  • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @02:43AM (#34895120) Homepage Journal

    Note that "an American expert in nuclear intelligence" would specifically not be someone who works in the gov't- If they could claim an anonymous official source they would.

    That doesn't follow. The way in which an anonymous source is characterised is negotiated by the journalist and the source. The journalist typically wants to make the identity (or more to the point, the validity) of the source as clear as possible. The source wants to hide any detail that can identify them. In this case, because we're talking about a level of secrecy that, if breached, would almost certainly get someone killed, the source clearly didn't want any information released except that they knew what they were talking about.

    This part of the intelligence world is very, very small, and the number of people who act as intermediaries between, for example, the IAEA and intelligence circles is even smaller.

  • by plover (150551) * on Sunday January 16, 2011 @03:26AM (#34895268) Homepage Journal

    By the way, all the pundits saying it would take the resources of a government to create that worm know very little about what it actually takes to make one. It did however take very intimate knowledge of the code running on those systems, so the creator probably has a copy of the source code on those machines, or the equivalent. (I'm pretty sure it's too large to be memorized by a single person.)

    Did you RTFA? It claims Israel acquired some of the centrifuges that Iran is using, got them working, then tested the worm's effect on them. That's a lot more than the resources of Joe Hacker. Not just anyone can run down to Pakistani-Centrifuges-R-Us and buy a dozen of them to test with.

    When you look at the instructions Stuxnet was sending to the centrifuges, they're brilliantly designed exactly to cause them to fail. After lurking for a couple weeks, they over-speed them for a few minutes, then drop them down to almost stopped speed, then bring them back to a fairly normal operating speed. The overspeed period stresses the already stressed components, occasionally beyond the breaking point. The underspeed periods act like a mixer, stirring up any U-238 that had already been spun out of suspension. Returning them to normal speed allayed suspicion that they were faulty.

    There is no way one guy is going to know exactly what values it would take to create such a precise scenario. It takes massive resources to pull that off.

  • by hildi (868839) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @03:27AM (#34895270)

    1. its illegal for you to marry a non-'common sense american'

    2. you are not allowed to work

    3. your house/apartment has been taken from you and you live in a walled ghetto

    4. your money has been 'kept for safety' by a special bank for 'common sense americans' only

    5. your place of worship got burned down last year

    6. several of your friends are dead

    7. within 6 years, everyone you ever knew or loved will be a skull in a mass grave

    8. you live in a one party state without any elections, with one single labor union controlled by the state, a massive military industry based on slave labor, and a dictatorial leader who has corrupted the entire court system, and replaced the constitution with laws that specifically single out 'common sense' americans for death or imprisonment

    yes. i can see very much how being a "common sense american" is JUST LIKE being a german jew in 1939.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @03:31AM (#34895284)

    Iraq feel because it was neither prepared nor ready for war. Iran has been preparing for war for close to a decade, apace.

    I'm really curious as to why you seem to portray the Iraqi army as a push-over but somehow Iran isn't. The Iraq-Iran war was a stalemate. Iraq had access to Western and Soviet hardware. Iraq built up the 4th largest army in the world. And while that army was greatly reduced after the Gulf War, I find the characterisation of being "unprepared" hard to accept. Granted - in comparison to what they went up against, the Iraqi forces were ill-equipped. But then that leads to the question of why you believe Iran is in such a better situation?

    I should note that I don't believe an invasion of Iran would be a "walk in the cake" either. But I suspect the problems would be more of the same issues we're seeing with Iraq today which is very much removed from conventional warfare.

    P.S. My friends from the 101st assure me that your characterization of the narrow nature of US forces and their training and preparation is also largely a pile of poop; US Armed Forces are also one of the largest and most prepared humanitarian response forces, as well.

    Policing and counter-insurgency is very different than helping people pick up the pieces after a war or a natural disaster.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @04:45AM (#34895520) Journal
    Assuming it actually does buy us three more years, that is an excellent thing. Keep finding more ways to delay, and three years becomes a decade. A lot of things can happen in a decade; Iran is not exactly a stable country politically. Delaying violence

    The only thing that surprises me about the article is that the US has a group that is actually capable of such a thing. Especially with all the calls recently saying how we need to be prepared for cyberwar. If this is true, we are more than prepared for it: we are doing it.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @04:55AM (#34895538) Journal

    The rationale for wanting nukes is pretty obvious: Iran is in a position where two of its neighbors got invaded in the past 10 years by the Americans, who they don't stand a chance against in a conventional war, and who have been rattling their sabers since 1979.

    Be careful not to make the US as the center of the world for everything. The US is important, but it is not the only thing.

    Iran wants nukes because it will give it more 'influence' over it's neighbors, something Iran has been trying for a long time. They have a sort of feudal relationship with Syria and Hezbollah, and they've been growing their influence in Egypt. At one time, Iran was a world power. They wouldn't mind being one again, at least in the region.

    We can see this also in Wikileaks, where leaders of middle eastern countries wanted the US to take out Iran.

  • by fishexe (168879) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @05:06AM (#34895564) Homepage

    The US is not fighting a war in Iraq. The US is fighting an occupation.

    Eh? I thought the US was the occupation.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:06AM (#34896458) Homepage

    Vietnam was a war of equals - the US vs the soviet union+china. It was fought in Vietnam, and often by proxies, but the US constraints in the war were the result of political considerations and a desire to not escalate the war.

    The US wasn't really fighting "to win" - or at least not in the usual sense of "win." Propaganda was a big part of the war.

    If the US wanted to "win" Vietnam it would have fought much less restricted warfare. For starters, they'd have bombed all strategic targets in the north.

  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyseNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:25AM (#34896566) Homepage Journal

    Especially with all the calls recently saying how we need to be prepared for cyberwar. If this is true, we are more than prepared for it: we are doing it.

    There is a difference between being able to attack and being able to defend. The US, Israel, China and Russia are apparently able to mount attacks quite well but the development of "armor" has lagged significantly.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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