Sources from within a US intelligence agency revealed that the Stuxnet worm was placed on computers located in Iranian nuclear facilities by double agents that utilized a cleverly designed memory stick to start the infection.
After, at the end of 2011, an expert from the United States revealed that Russia might be behind the now-infamous Stuxnet, anonymous sources cited by ISSSource point the finger at the US and Israel. More precisely, it’s believed that the spies were part of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
According to Vince Cannistraro, once the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism, the MEK is “the assassination arm of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service,” being responsible for “the motor attacks on Iranian targets chosen by Israel.” Others also blame MEK for ordering assassinations on Iranian citizens, among which a number of nuclear scientists.
Reportedly, the MEK infiltrator used the memory stick at the nuclear plant in Natanz, the method being considered far more effective than simply letting the worm spread on its own.
By using the malicious stick in the most vulnerable parts of the system, Stuxnet was able to infiltrate the networks.
On the surface, the virus looked nothing more than a harmless file, but, when clicked, it started the infection by leveraging zero-day vulnerabilities.
If it’s true that the US is behind Stuxnet, as initially believed, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially since it would not be the first time.
In the ‘80s, military intelligence placed bugs in Russian computers with the purpose of stealing satellite information from their hard drives. Apparently, this practice is still ongoing today with China.
Also, in 1991, before Desert Storm, the United States and the United Kingdom collaborated on placing a virus on the computers of Iraqi officials. At the time, the piece of malware couldn’t cause much damage because of the air raids that began shortly after it had started to spread.