After the Stuxnet attack, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmedinjad did not publicly admit that his country's nuclear program had been the victim of a cyberattack. One reason this believed to have happened is because Iran may have been trying to build its nuclear program in order to be competitive with larger militaries around the world. Some sources speculate that in order to be competitive with more powerful militaries, the Iranian government may have been engaging in illegal activities to build its nuclear program. By not admitting that it was the victim of a cyberattack, Iran also was able to prevent speculation from other countries regarding the actions of its government.
Perhaps the biggest implication of Stuxnet is not the impact it had on the Natanz centrifuges. Instead, some sources argue that the political ramifications may outweigh Stuxnet's immediate impact. Because Stuxnet was the first computer virus to have such a tangible impact on a physical process, it is being taken more seriously by Iran's government and leaders around the world that any virus that came before it.
After it became clear that malware such as Stuxnet could be so eeffective and attack physical processes, other more advanced viruses have been produced. Recently, a worm referred to as 'Flame' was discovered by the United Nations. While Stuxnet was more complicated than anything that had come before it, Flame is even more complicated than Stuxnet.
Apart from the immediate impact of Stuxnet, the virus will have lasting affects around the world. Because the virus was so effective and revolutionary, it has changed the way organizations and security providers think about protecting computers from similar attacks. Stuxnet has caused organizations to realize that their current security measures are inadequate.
Along with its ability to select targets, another thing that makes Stuxnet stand out from other viruses is its complexity. Experts estimate that it took a group of five to ten people approximately six months to fabricate the virus.
To add an element of secrecy, the Stuxnet worm did not attack every computer controlling every centrifuge in Natanz. Instead, the malware would let some computers controlling the centrifuges to operate normally while others were affected by the malware.
Specifically, Stuxnet altered the electrical current used to power the enrichment centrifuges. By altering the flow of electricity, Stuxnet was able to make the centrifuges change the speed at which they spun the uranium which prevented the proper enrichment from happening. Ultimately, this means that the uranium was made unusable.
Though most malware and computer viruses alter how the computer functions internally - referring to the computer's software - Stuxnet did the just the opposite. Stuxnet was designed to disrupt the Natanz nuclear facility's centrifuges used to enrich uranium. So, Stuxnet was designed to interrupt a physical process: the spinning of centrifuges.
Though originally the origins of Stuxnet were unknown, it has recently been made public that the American government is responsible for the attacks on Iran's nuclear efforts. The American government began using cyber attacks against Iran during the Bush administration and its efforts continue today.
The Stuxnet virus was loaded onto computers in the Natanz nuclear facility using infected thumb drives. The thumb drives containing the Stuxnet virus were used by spies who knew that they were spreading the virus but also via Natanz workers who unknowingly used thumb drives containing the worm.
Stuxnet was a computer virus, a form of malware, loaded onto computers at the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. The Natanz nuclear facility was used to enrich uranium to make it useable in nuclear weapons.