DIGITAL AMERICA

Stuxnet

// Posted by on 05/28/2015 (7:13 PM)

Unlike typical malware that pulls its data from computer’s hard drive, Stuxnet pulled the data from the memory, which virtually made if impossible to detect.  As the article “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, The Most Menacing Malware In History.” pointed out Stuxnet created a new “breed” of spyware. The malware was so malicious that it infected the software of several industrial sites in Iran, including a uranium plant. The worm spread from one computer to another through a LNK file of Windows Explorer. Unbeknownst, to the user, each time the USB stick was installed the worm installed an encrypted file onto the computer. This allowed the intruders to spy on Iran’s systems.

The worm caused cyber warfare, like battles played out in the military. First, the malware wreaked havoc on Microsoft Windows. Then it infected Siemens Step 7 software. The malware was so invasive that the worm would separate in many different directions. That made the detection even more difficult to discover. From what I gathered the malware flowed as such:

  1. First an infected USB sticks that contained the Stuxnet virus running Microsoft Windows is inserted.
  2. Then it targeted systems that ran Siemans.
  3. Stuxnet used the information on the network to filter information.

The malware was so unique and complicated that computer experts, and companies who spend millions of dollars, was unable to detect the virus, and after its detection was unable to immediately stop it. Therefore, if experts are unable to detect spyware using professional knowledge, and sophisticated software, what are the laymen like us to do? We install anti-virus and anti-spy software, hoping we are fully protected against viruses, and Trojan horses. We’re not. Certainly, it allows us some protection from malicious programmers, but it also gives us a false sense of security, as well. Because, in spite of continued warnings, about computer theft, we continue to put valuable information online; from pictures, and locations of our children, to personal account numbers.

It disturbs me, knowing if large companies that spend millions of dollars to detect, and stop malware, are unable to do so, where does that leave us?  Certainly, we aren’t going to stop using the computer, because it has now become an integral tool in our lives.  


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Comments:


Shirley said...

Very insightful! I am left wondering the same things, if huge companies worth billions of dollars can not plug all its vulnerabilities, the average citizen doesn’t stand a chance. I know it sounds pessimistic but seems the best we can do is react after an incident occurs and hope for the best.

// 05/28/2015 at 8:38 pm

Lois said...

Hi Bonnie,
I, like you, mentioned in my post that we are not secure even with the anti-virus software we install on our personal computers. I feel vulnerable as you mentioned.

The computer has become an integral part of our lives. We use it for so many aspects of our daily activity. What do you think is a possible alternative solution to make us “safer” even with anti-virus software? This is a question that puzzles me. It seems someone out in cyber land is smarter than me and I feel as if I’m playing catch up!

What anti-virus software do you use and have you had issues with it?

// 05/29/2015 at 6:42 am

Rosatelli said...

Hi Bonnie,

This is a great summary of the case, but I’m much more interested in what disturbs you and how it fits into the larger framework for our class–the history and culture of the digital age. I’m really interested in the fact that you see these large companies as failing to stop the malware. They did figure it out and essentially out Stuxnet to the world. They did, in effect, stop it. And in doing so they could have sabotaged one of the most successful military attacks that essentially harmed no one. If you think about the case from various perspectives, we get into really tricky moral ground. Should we be beholden to the nation state (i.e. USA), or should we support the private-enterprise mandate to keep our data safe? Is there something in between?

// 05/29/2015 at 8:42 pm