This is one of those stories where I really need to set aside all of the original questions I had about a particular situation and just move on to a whole new set of questions. (For the record, when the entire Stuxnet news originally broke, the number one question I had was, why do we know about this? Who in the heck is leaking this kind of incredibly useful information?) In any event, at least according to the Times of Israel, the final chapter in the Stuxnet saga has not yet been written, and the virus is busily making its way around the world… and beyond.
A Russian nuclear power plant was reportedly “badly infected” by the rogue Stuxnet virus, the same malware that reportedly disrupted Iran’s nuclear program several years ago. The virus then spread to the International Space Station via a Stuxnet-infected USB stick transported by Russian cosmonauts.
Speaking to journalists in Canberra, Australia, last week, Eugene Kaspersky, head of the anti-virus and cyber protection firm that bears his name, said he had been tipped off about the damage by a friend who works at the Russian plant.
A cautionary tale about this from Doug Mataconis.
That, of course, is the danger with any kind of cyber warfare. Once the methods are out there, they are capable of being copied by anybody and turned against the people who originated the attack. Perhaps that’s a reason to be careful of what we’re doing here.
I suppose the first important thing to note here is that nobody is even implying that the US or Israel intentionally unleashed this on the Russians. (And if you didn’t run a scan on your thumb drive I don’t know what to tell you.) But is the risk of this getting loose enough of a reason to not do it in the first place? To me, that seems rather like saying that we shouldn’t come up with a faster fighter jet because somebody else might see it and build one too. We live in the computer age and that comes replete with computer virus attacks. And the benefit we got from the original effort seems to outweigh any later fallout. (At least thus far.)
Exit question: what did the virus do when it got loose on the International Space Station? It’s not like they’re running any centrifuges up there. Did it disable the Stephen Colbert treadmill? Make the space toilets explode? Your theories, as always, are welcome.