There is a brilliant article by Ed Barnes at FoxNews: ‘Mystery surrounds cyber missile that crippled Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.’ When I first read it, at the least when a third into the text, I would have thought it to be fiction, hadn’t I heard about ‘Stuxnet‘ before … and Wikipedia’s entry on it cites all in all 82 sources. It seems to me, that Barnes is a fan of William Gibson’s writing, that’s the one thing. The other thing is, that nobody can deny anymore that we are living in a cyberpunked world. Have two quotes, the first one from Barnes’ article, the second one from Gibson’s 1982 short story ‘Burning Chrome.’
But as the extent of the worm’s capabilities is being understood, its genius and complexity has created another perplexing question: Who did it?
Speculation on the worm’s origin initially focused on hackers or even companies trying to disrupt competitors. But as engineers tore apart the virus they learned not only the depth of the code, its complex targeting mechanism, (despite infecting more than 100,000 computers it has only done damage at Natanz,) the enormous amount of work that went into it—Microsoft estimated that it consumed 10,000 man days of labor—and about what the worm knew, the clues narrowed the number of players that have the capabilities to create it to a handful.
“This is what nation-states build, if their only other option would be to go to war,” Joseph Wouk, an Israeli security expert wrote.
[Eric] Byres is more certain. “It is a military weapon,” he said. (Barnes 2010)
Then Cyrillic alphanumerics started reeling down the monitor, twisting themselves into English halfway down. There were a lot of gaps, where the lexicon ran up against specialized military acronyms in the readout I’d bought from my man in Colorado, but it did give me some idea of what I’d bought from the Finn.
I felt like a punk who’d gone out to buy a switch-blade and come home with a small neutron bomb.
Screwed again, I thought. What good’s a neutron bomb in a streetfight? The thing under the dust cover was right out of my league. I didn’t even know where to unload it, where to look for a buyer. Someone had, but he was dead, someone with a Porsche watch and a fake Belgian passport, but I’d never tried to move in those circles. The Finn’s muggers from the ‘burbs had knocked over someone who had some highly arcane connections.
The program in the jeweler’s vise was a Russian military icebreaker, a killer-virus program. (Gibson 1987 : 179)