This is the kind of story that comes straight from the “truth is stranger than fiction” category.  It was revealed recently that a cyber war has been going on against the Iranian nuclear agency.  For years Iran has been trying to develop its own source of nuclear fuel for bombs.  The agency has been steadily making progress and this has the international community up in arms.  The worst case scenario is that Iran develops a nuclear bomb and gives it to the nuts in Al-Qaeda or another terrorist organization.

Last year, Iranian nuclear scientists began noticing many of the casings involved in the manufacture of nuclear fuel were getting damaged.  None of the computer systems reported problems, but the casings continued to break at an increasing frequency.  After several hundred units were destroyed the production of fuel drastically slowed down.  For months the scientists were baffled.  The damage was extensive although the Iranian government will not disclose the extent of it.  The computer network that runs the operation has an “air gap” which means there are absolutely no data connections to the outside world.  No Internet connections whatsoever.  This meant cyber sabotage was not a consideration.

Months later the cause was discovered: a computer virus, named Stuxnet, was found running rampant inside the Iranian nuclear computer systems.  It was one of the most advanced viruses ever developed; one that was written by very sophisticated developers.  The virus was designed specifically to attack only the devices in the Iranian nuclear facility.  No other devices in the world were affected.   The virus caused the casings to spin at a highly variable rate of speed which caused the damage.  Then the virus scrubbed the RPM data on the computers to report normally, so the engineers had no idea the RPMs were off.  (Brilliant!)  Once detected, the virus began destroying itself and virtually every copy of it was wiped out within 24 hours.  Security specialists suspect it was created by a joint effort between the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.

The virus was most likely loaded on a flash drive and inadvertently brought into the facility by an unsuspecting scientist.  Turns out that the CIA is selling computers to Iran with these viruses embedded in their chipsets through front companies.  I guess if you’re the Iranian Nuclear Agency you can’t just order up an HP desktop.

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