One of the downsides of cyber-warfare between nations has emerged.
When the unnamed power released the highly sophisticated Stuxnet worm in a bid to shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons making capability, it seems that it did not think that the malware would be also used by criminal gangs.
Insecurity experts have warned that the virus could be used as a “devastating tool” by cyber criminals who could use it to shut down 999 emergency systems, disrupt hospital systems and equipment, or cause problems with transport networks, banking systems or power plants.
Stewart Baker, a former adviser to the US Department of Homeland Security, told Sky News that the crims could shut down power systems, dams, almost any sophisticated industrial process that requires a control software.
Stuxnet can reprogram software to force a computer to carry out different commands. It can be transferred between machines by USB memory stick, which means that even computers that are not connected to the internet for security reasons are still susceptible to it.
But Paul Ducklin, head of technology at security firm Sophos has warned that it is business as usual for the cyber security industry, and there was no need to panic yet about Stuxnet getting into the wrong hands.
He said that cyber criminals were routinely stealing our credentials, plundering our bank accounts, raiding retirement funds and subverting payment systems.
In other words, Stuxnet can’t really do that much more damage than is ordinarily being done by this sort of crap.
However, the point is that Stuxnet is fast becoming like old landmines which are deployed in a war by a major power and left around for anyone to step on or use as a weapon.