How The Stuxnet Virus Was Smuggled Into Iranian Nuclear Plants

Posted Apr 12, 2012

In January 2011, Hillary Clinton and Meir Dagan said that Iran’s ability to enrich uranium for developing bombs had been set back. The biggest reason for the setback is because of the Stuxnet computer worm. The way that Stuxnet ended up in Iran’s nuclear plants was because it was planted by a double agent working for Israel. The agent had used a memory stick that was infected inside of the Natanz nuclear facility.

After the memory stick was infected, Stuxnet was able to infiltrate the Natanz network even if a user clicked on an icon in Windows according to ISSSource. They had cited a former U.S. intelligence official that requested anonymity because of their proximity to the investigations. The U.S. and Israel wanted to use a saboteur on the ground to spread the infection so that they can get to the most vulnerable machines in the system.

The double agent was most likely part of an Iranian group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) group. This group of Iranians are also known for assassinating key Iranian nuclear scientists. The MEK were also behind a huge blast that destroyed an underground site near the town of Khorramabad in western Iran that stored most of the country’s Shehab-3 medium-range missiles that was capable of reaching Israel and Iraq.

Stuxnet made history as being one of the most advanced cyber weapons. Stuxnet had exploited four previously unknown vulnerabilities in Windows and took advantage of the weaknesses that were inside. Siemen’s Simatic WinCC Step 7 software was being used to control machinery inside Natanz. Stuxnet had disrupted the Iranian nuke program by sabotaging the centrifuges used for enriching uranium. The worm was designed for spreading quickly.

Stuxnet was not the first malware that was created by the U.S. military. In the 1980s, the U.S. government planted viruses inside of a Soviet military industrial structure that could be activated during in time of war.