NYT: U.S. and Israel Built Stuxnet for Cyberattacks on Iran


David E. Sanger reports for The New York Times:

From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

A fascinating look at a bold new field of warfare between countries.

Just as with any new, powerful weapon in the past, it’s interesting to note Mr. Obama’s hesitancy toward acknowledgement and ownership of tools such as Stuxnet. In many respects, such an attitude creates some degree of parity between cyberattack tools and atomic weapons — certainly a bold and important topic to consider.

The article is based upon Mr. Sanger’s new book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American power.