Computer Warfare of the Future

With the advent of the Stuxnet virus, the first computer virus to physically damage a nation’s infrastructure, the world of cyber warfare got a little more dangerous. Believed to be a collaboration between U.S. and Israeli computer experts, the virus targets Siemens industrial software — software used by the Iranian Uranium Enrichment Program. It was the centrifuge that was believed to be used for this purpose that was attacked by the virus with the hopes of delaying the Iranian’s ability to produce enriched uranium, which could then be used to produce a thermo-nuclear device. This, in turn, could be used against U.S. forces in the Gulf Region or against U.S. allies, such as Israel.

According to a recent report by, a scarier prospect is that Stuxnet is believed to be part of a larger, cookie-cutter virus program that allows for the easy switching of components involved in its cyber attacks against whatever target might be deemed a threat. And while the initial development would be costly, once that is out of the way, it is just a matter of switching out one piece of code for another, and the attacks can be redirected toward another specific target or area of an interface’s system.

Using on a launcher file system, this new attack secretly inserts the virus onto a computer and includes whatever additional code is needed to accomplish the required task. Similar code has been found in the Duqu Virus, which is a quieter and more persistent program designed to sit quietly and gather information. This type of attack could go undetected for a very long period of time.

Believed to be a precursor of Stuxnet, the discovery of similarities between the two could mean that a malicious cyber weapons platform has been developed. Such a program would allow for various parts of it to be switched out easily, allowing for an ability to rapidly target various areas of a nation’s systems, but still using the same underlying programming — ultimately, more effectively and definitely cheaper.

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