Although it is a bit hard to see how this ties in with social media, crafting your message, or anything that normally is discussed here, it seems like it should be noted that the world seems to have officially entered the era of cyber super-weapons. What’s more is the theory that the weapon in question might just be the creation of a government, which would make it the first state-sponsored super-weapon.
The news has been abuzz over the weekend and today (Monday, September 27, 2010) with the strange word “Stuxnet.” This is the name given to what seems to be a computer virus known as a “worm” that apparently has been used to attack the country of Iran. In particular, the virus seems to have attacked the still-being-built nuclear power plant and, possibly, the uranium enrichment facility.
Some experts are saying the level of sophistication in the program shows a high-level of expertise and knowledge that could only be seen at a government level. The program seems to target and change very specific industrial control systems. It even has a specific launch date and cancellation date built in. Some experts have called it a cyber “super-weapon.”
While there have been incidents of hackers and individual programmers who have created computer worms, viruses and Trojan horses, this seems to be the first one to act like a cyber-guided-missile. What that means for the future of cyber warfare remains to be seen. Exactly which government might be behind the attack is also unclear. The United States, Israel, China, France and Russia have all been named as possibilities.
It also appears as if the initial virus was installed at the construction site of the nuclear power plant via a USB flash drive. Then, as others used their flash drives, the virus was transported and infected system after system. The exact extent of the damage is unknown.
The exact nature of the virus and who created it remains to be seen. However, it does show the potential dark side of a world that is going increasingly digital. What can be a great benefit to business and personally, can also be turned into a possible force of destruction by someone else.
It just goes to show you that just when you think the digital world is now safe and you can use it with impunity, that may not be the case. Be careful with your data. Be cautious who uses your systems. Be aware of what sites might be dangerous. Social media seems safe, but caution is always necessary.