The story behind the Stuxnet worm reads more like a Jason Bourne thriller than of nerds hacking behind computer screens in dim basements. Stuxnet is a computer virus that seems to have been built to specifically target and destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. No one knows for sure who built it, but the New York Times has a pretty good story on who could have made it the sophisticated program and how:
One part of the program is designed to lie dormant for long periods, then speed up the machines so that the spinning rotors in the centrifuges wobble and then destroy themselves. Another part, called a “man in the middle” in the computer world, sends out those false sensor signals to make the system believe everything is running smoothly. That prevents a safety system from kicking in, which would shut down the plant before it could self-destruct.
“Code analysis makes it clear that Stuxnet is not about sending a message or proving a concept,” Mr. Langner later wrote. “It is about destroying its targets with utmost determination in military style.”
This was not the work of hackers, he quickly concluded. It had to be the work of someone who knew his way around the specific quirks of the Siemens controllers and had an intimate understanding of exactly how the Iranians had designed their enrichment operations.
In fact, the Americans and the Israelis had a pretty good idea.
Hit the link for the story behind the Stuxnet worm.