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US identified as Stuxnet perpetrator with Obama's backing

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US President Barack Obama

The infamous Stuxnet worm, which crippled Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities, was part of a wider cyberwar campaign orchestrated by the Whitehouse under direct command of president Obama, it has been claimed.

The New York Times has run in-depth article which cites numerous unidentified sources, who claim to have knowledge of a covert operation, known as Olympic Games, which sought to unleash cyber havoc on Iran.

Those security researchers that have studied Stuxnet have long suggested its complexity was such that it could only have been authored by well-funded state security programme. That being the case, the most likely candidates – given the target – were the US and Israel.

But the NYT reports suggests Stuxnet was part of a much wider cyber war programme, initiated under president Bush and extended by president Obama. 

The six-year operation has seen officials from the US, Israel and Europe involved in the programme, and is believed to have taken out nearly a fifth of Iran's uranium-purifying centrifuges.

The significance of these explosive revelations is hard to overstate: it provides the first categorical account of a new theatre of war in which the Leader of the Free World uses the might of his military not to invade borders, but to infiltrate computer systems.

But the NYT report, which is based the forthcoming book by David Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret War and Surprising Use of American Power, also provides a degree of comfort for businesses.

In planning to attack, the US government apparently built replica versions of the Iranian nuclear control systems in order to understand every last detail of how a cyber attack might work. Once built, they had to rely on a chain of spies, double-agents, stooges and patsies to deliver the payload via a USB thumbdrive. It's a operation far beyond the means of most business-focussed cyber crooks.

The revelations come just days after yet another complex piece of malware has been found infecting systems in the Middle East. The so-called Flame toolkit is also believed to have been developed by state services with Israel already hinting it may have been involved.

These latest revelations suggest the US could well be behind that too.

01 Jun 2012

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