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Cybersecurity threat actors and motivations

The ISIS report further notes that Iranian authorities have attempted to conceal the breakdown by installing new centrifuges on a large scale. The worm worked by first causing an infected Iranian IR-1 centrifuge to increase from its normal operating speed of 1, hertz to 1, hertz for 15 minutes before returning to its normal frequency.

Twenty-seven days later, the worm went back into action, slowing the infected centrifuges down to a few hundred hertz for a full 50 minutes. The stresses from the excessive, then slower, speeds caused the aluminium centrifugal tubes to expand, often forcing parts of the centrifuges into sufficient contact with each other to destroy the machine. According to The Washington Post , IAEA cameras installed in the Natanz facility recorded the sudden dismantling and removal of approximately —1, centrifuges during the time the Stuxnet worm was reportedly active at the plant.

Iranian technicians, however, were able to quickly replace the centrifuges and the report concluded that uranium enrichment was likely only briefly disrupted. On 15 February , the Institute for Science and International Security released a report concluding that:. Assuming Iran exercises caution, Stuxnet is unlikely to destroy more centrifuges at the Natanz plant. Iran likely cleaned the malware from its control systems.

To prevent re-infection, Iran will have to exercise special caution since so many computers in Iran contain Stuxnet. Although Stuxnet appears to be designed to destroy centrifuges at the Natanz facility, destruction was by no means total. Moreover, Stuxnet did not lower the production of low-enriched uranium LEU during LEU quantities could have certainly been greater, and Stuxnet could be an important part of the reason why they did not increase significantly.

Nonetheless, there remain important questions about why Stuxnet destroyed only 1, centrifuges. One observation is that it may be harder to destroy centrifuges by use of cyber attacks than often believed. The Associated Press reported that the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency released a statement on 24 September stating that experts from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran met in the previous week to discuss how Stuxnet could be removed from their systems. The head of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant told Reuters that only the personal computers of staff at the plant had been infected by Stuxnet and the state-run newspaper Iran Daily quoted Reza Taghipour , Iran's telecommunications minister, as saying that it had not caused "serious damage to government systems".

This computer worm is designed to transfer data about production lines from our industrial plants to locations outside Iran. In response to the infection, Iran assembled a team to combat it. With more than 30, IP addresses affected in Iran, an official said that the infection was fast spreading in Iran and the problem had been compounded by the ability of Stuxnet to mutate.

Iran had set up its own systems to clean up infections and had advised against using the Siemens SCADA antivirus since it is suspected that the antivirus was actually embedded with codes which update Stuxnet instead of eradicating it. According to Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran's government Information Technology Company, "The attack is still ongoing and new versions of this virus are spreading. On 29 November , Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated for the first time that a computer virus had caused problems with the controller handling the centrifuges at its Natanz facilities.

According to Reuters, he told reporters at a news conference in Tehran, "They succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts. On the same day two Iranian nuclear scientists were targeted in separate, but nearly simultaneous car bomb attacks near Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. Majid Shahriari , a quantum physicist was killed.

Fereydoon Abbasi , a high-ranking official at the Ministry of Defense was seriously wounded. Wired speculated that the assassinations could indicate that whoever was behind Stuxnet felt that it was not sufficient to stop the nuclear program. An analysis by the FAS demonstrates that Iran's enrichment capacity grew during European and US officials, along with private experts told Reuters that Iranian engineers were successful in neutralizing and purging Stuxnet from their country's nuclear machinery.

Given the growth in Iranian enrichment capability in , the country may have intentionally put out misinformation to cause Stuxnet's creators to believe that the worm was more successful in disabling the Iranian nuclear program than it actually was. Israel , through Unit , [] [] has been speculated to be the country behind Stuxnet in many media reports [76] [90] [] and by experts such as Richard A.

Additionally, Israel now expects that Iran will have a nuclear weapon in or — at least three years later than earlier estimates — without the need for an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities; "They seem to know something, that they have more time than originally thought", he added. So a tool like Stuxnet is Israel's obvious weapon of choice. Khan stole in and took to Pakistan. His black market nuclear-proliferation network sold P-1s to, among other customers, Iran.

Experts believe that Israel also somehow acquired P-1s and tested Stuxnet on the centrifuges, installed at the Dimona facility that is part of its own nuclear program. Hadassah was the birth name of the former Jewish queen of Persia, Queen Esther. There has also been testimony on the involvement of the United States and its collaboration with Israel, [] [] with one report stating that "there is vanishingly little doubt that [it] played a role in creating the worm. A diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks showed how the United States was advised to target Iran's nuclear capabilities through 'covert sabotage'.

The fact that John Bumgarner, a former intelligence officer and member of the United States Cyber-Consequences Unit US-CCU , published an article prior to Stuxnet being discovered or deciphered, that outlined a strategic cyber strike on centrifuges [] and suggests that cyber attacks are permissible against nation states which are operating uranium enrichment programs that violate international treaties gives some credibility to these claims.

Bumgarner pointed out that the centrifuges used to process fuel for nuclear weapons are a key target for cybertage operations and that they can be made to destroy themselves by manipulating their rotational speeds.

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In a March interview with 60 Minutes , retired US Air Force General Michael Hayden — who served as director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency — while denying knowledge of who created Stuxnet said that he believed it had been "a good idea" but that it carried a downside in that it had legitimized the use of sophisticated cyber weapons designed to cause physical damage. Hayden said, "There are those out there who can take a look at this In the same report, Sean McGurk, a former cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security noted that the Stuxnet source code could now be downloaded online and modified to be directed at new target systems.

Speaking of the Stuxnet creators, he said, "They opened the box. They demonstrated the capability It's not something that can be put back. In April Iranian government official Gholam Reza Jalali stated that an investigation had concluded that the United States and Israel were behind the Stuxnet attack. The code for the Windows injector and the PLC payload differ in style, likely implying collaboration. Alexander stated: "And he and his cyber warriors have already launched their first attack.

The cyber weapon that came to be known as Stuxnet was created and built by the NSA in partnership with the CIA and Israeli intelligence in the mids. China , [] Jordan , and France are other possibilities, and Siemens may have also participated. Sandro Gaycken from the Free University Berlin argued that the attack on Iran was a ruse to distract from Stuxnet's real purpose.

According to him, its broad dissemination in more than , industrial plants worldwide suggests a field test of a cyber weapon in different security cultures, testing their preparedness, resilience, and reactions, all highly valuable information for a cyberwar unit. The United Kingdom has denied involvement in the worm's creation.

Stratfor Documents released by WikiLeaks suggest that the International Security Firm 'Stratfor' believe that Israel is behind Stuxnet — "But we can't assume that because they did Stuxnet that they are capable of doing this blast as well". The operation was reportedly launched in tandem with the attack that targeted Iranian centrifuges in — The North Korean nuclear program shares many similarities with the Iranian, both having been developed with technology transferred by Pakistani nuclear scientist A.

The effort failed, however, because North Korea's extreme secrecy and isolation made it impossible to introduce Stuxnet into the nuclear facility. Iran plans to sue Israel through International Court of Justice ICJ and is also willing to launch a retaliation attack if the latter doesn't mend its ways. A November article [] in Foreign Policy magazine claims existence of an earlier, much more sophisticated attack on the centrifuge complex at Natanz, focused on increasing centrifuge failure rate over a long time period by stealthily inducing uranium hexafluoride gas overpressure incidents.

This malware was capable of spreading only by being physically installed, probably by previously contaminated field equipment used by contractors working on Siemens control systems within the complex. It is not clear whether this attack attempt was successful, but it being followed by a different, simpler and more conventional attack is indicative.

On 1 September , a new worm was found, thought to be related to Stuxnet. The exfiltrated data may be used to enable a future Stuxnet-like attack. Also uncovered in this research was the possibility for three more variants based on the Tilded platform. In May , the new malware "Flame" was found, thought to be related to Stuxnet. An early version of Stuxnet contained code to propagate infections via USB drives that is nearly identical to a Flame module that exploits the same vulnerability.

In December it was reported that the safety systems of an unidentified power station, believed to be in Saudi Arabia , were compromised, when the Triconex industrial safety technology made by Schneider Electric SE was targeted, in what is believed to have been a state sponsored attack. The computer security company Symantec claimed that the malware, known as "Triton", exploited a vulnerability in computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Since , there has been extensive international media coverage on Stuxnet and its aftermath. In early commentary, The Economist pointed out that Stuxnet was "a new kind of cyber-attack. In that piece, Kim Zetter claimed that Stuxnet's "cost—benefit ratio is still in question.

Following the Wired piece, Holger Stark called Stuxnet the "first digital weapon of geopolitical importance, it could change the way wars are fought. Alex Gibney 's documentary Zero Days covers the phenomenon around Stuxnet. In it was revealed that General James Cartwright , the former head of the U. Strategic Command, had leaked information related to Stuxnet. He later pleaded guilty for lying to FBI agents pursuing an investigation into the leak.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Control system security.

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This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. December June Main article: Duqu. Main article: Flame malware.

Ars Technica. The Washington Post. IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved 25 March Retrieved 20 April Business Insider. Retrieved 26 July Trend Micro.

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January Vanity Fair. April Archived from the original PDF on 17 February Retrieved 5 December Retrieved 16 September Virus Bulletin. BBC News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 25 September Retrieved 25 September Threat intelligence sharing is more important now than ever before.

According to the new research from the Ponemon institute , 39 percent of attacks can be thwarted by threat intelligence sharing, which is why our partnerships around this initiative with leading security, endpoints and networking vendors including our recent partnership with Proofpoint is significant. They research, identify, and select targets, often using phishing tactics or extracting public information from LinkedIn profiles and corporate websites.

Delivery Stage: Attackers determine how to send weaponized threats into the organization, using methods such as phishing via email or social media platforms, watering holes, etc. They may choose to embed malicious code within a seemingly innocuous file, like a PDF, Word document or email message, as part of a multi-stage download attack. In highly targeted attacks, attackers may craft deliverables to catch the specific interests of an individual.

Infrastructure that is fragmented and patchy, built over time with multiple isolated systems and management tools, provide attackers with a huge advantage: gaps that may make their activities invisible. This becomes essential when you prevent secondary downloads and data from leaving your organization and counter the next four stages of the attack life cycle, exploitation, installation, command and control and action on the objective.

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Prior to our partnership, files analyzed by Proofpoint were held and not shared with sandboxes. You can now take command and control back from the basement-dwelling threat actors and nation states that used to keep you up at night. An ISOC evolves with the environment and threatscape, adapting to new challenges and objectives. In addition, an ISOC must provide the agility that is needed to detect and respond to advanced threats, and provides a feedback loop for adaption and evolution. ISOCs are a lean-forward approach designed to know where the puck is going.

This unique and powerful approach utilized by our preferred solution for post breach detection, Infocyte HUNT, minimizes risk and eliminates malware and threat dwell times. Threats are identified and scored for immediate resolution. Infocyte HUNT allows an organization to validate the devices coming on the network and spot those exhibiting deviant behavior thereby providing a compelling solution to thwarting both known and unknown attacks.

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Finally, you can achieve proactive threat-hunting that does not rely on signature or rule-based detection mechanisms. Like Nothing You've Seen. Gone is the ocean of false positives that blind most security teams. Many products try to offer intelligence, when what you really need are answers. Mantix4 provides answers, lightning-fast, accurate, actionable and reliable. You are always just a few clicks away from identifying known and unknown threats, right down to an infected IP address in your network.

Schedule a demo today and see the difference in High Fidelity from Mantix4. Mantix4 changes the rules of asymmetrical warfare. With continuous monitoring and deviant behavior collected throughout your networks, Mantix4 also correlates intelligence from over 40 different threat feeds gathered by commercial, open source, private research and government white hats.

We will continue to add threat feeds, especially from the Dark Web as they become available. Schedule a demo today and see the difference in Proactive security from Mantix4. When securing your organization, time is your enemy. Many approaches automate post-breach forensics, but by then the damage is done. Schedule a demo today and see the positive impact on your security team with Automated Security Orchestration from Mantix4. Press enter to begin your search. Book a demo. Learn more about our New Dimension Partner Program.