Remember the reports on the Stuxnet virus infecting computers in Iran? (See my post from September 23 for background information.) Like so much of yesterday's news, it has seemingly slipped into oblivion. But is the story--or the virus--really gone?
Earlier this week an article appeared on the Guardian newspaper web site with further information about the virus. After several months of detailed study, computer virus experts have now concluded what was suspected all along--the Stuxnet virus was indeed designed to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
Symantec, the software company specializing in virus protection software, has posted a video illustrating how the virus actually worked. Stuxnet searched out specialized power drives controlling high-speed of motors, then varied the speed of the motors for short periods of time. The sudden change in speed would tear apart the equipment. The motor controllers targeted by the virus are consistent with the type of motors used to control Iran's gas centrifuges for enriching uranium.
Two questions remain unanswered. Who designed the virus...and has it been completely eradicated? No individual or nation has stepped forward to claim credit for the virus, and Iran is unlikely to share the full extent of the damage done...or whether it has really been eliminated. And one additional question remains. Was the virus only designed to attack equipment, or did it also have the ability to report back to its creator information on the content of the many computers it did infect?
I don't believe we have yet reached the end of the story!