Using the Web, research Stuxnet. When was it discovered? What kind of systems does it target? Who created it and what is it used for?1

 Stuxnet, a 500-kilo byte computer worm, was discovered in June 2010. In January of that year inspectors visiting the Iranian Natanz uranium enrichment plant of the International Atomic Energy Agency noticed that “centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas were failing at an unprecedented rate.”2 In June, a computer security firm in Belarus was hired to troubleshoot the computer systems which mysteriously kept crashing and auto-rebooting. It was then that Stuxnet, “the world’s first digital weapon” 2 was discovered.

Stuxnet started by first targeting “Microsoft Windows machines and networks, repeatedly replicating itself.”3 It then moved on to Siemens Step7 software (also Windows-based) where it tampered with “industrial control systems that operate equipment, such as centrifuges.” 3 Finally, it compromised the programmable logic controllers.

In a New York Time article by David Sanger published on June 1, 2012, he states that the Stuxnet was developed by the United States and Isreal. The then US President, Barack Obama, had in the first months in office “ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities” 4 as part of an effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program.The Stuxnet was never meant to be out in the wild, but it quickly got out of hand when it “escaped” beyond the initial target.