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Security Worms

Iran Arrests Alleged Spies Over Stuxnet Worm 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the feeding-the-propaganda-machine dept.
kaptink writes "Reports surfacing from Iran claim 'nuclear spies' have been arrested over the infection at the Busheher nuclear station, which opened in August. According to Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, because Stuxnet is so sophisticated, cost so much to write and uses two stolen security certificates, he believes only a national intelligence agency or a huge private company could have devised it, calling them 'enemies' spy services."
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Iran Arrests Alleged Spies Over Stuxnet Worm

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  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:16PM (#33770870) Journal

    They may be right this time, but who will believe them? For those living under a rock, I'm referring to the 3 American hikers who allegedly strayed over the border from Kurdish Iraq, two of which are still being held as spies.

    • They arrested "The Usual Suspects".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 7-Vodka (195504)
      Yeah! because the chances of young, professional looking Americans, hiking on the border of Iraq and Iran and being CIA agents is PRETTY INSIGNIFICANT. Hell, my friends and I all wanted to take a hike through a warzone and 'accidentally' get lost into a neighbouring country but the travel agent said that trip was SOLD OUT.
      /sarcasm

      Just the actions, manerisms and behavior of the woman since she was freed already has CIA written all over them. Put that together with the propaganda and where they were and I'

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:53PM (#33772510)

        Why in the hell would the CIA send three very obviously non-Iranian looking Americans hiking around the Iranian border?

        You're an idiot to think they have anything to do with the CIA. They are were "caught" after visiting the Ahmed Awa waterfall, which happens to be only a few miles from the Iranian border. They are nothing more than a bunch of hippie activists who were stupid enough to wander into a questionable area.

    • did you use "intensive" intentionally in your sig, just to piss people off?

      Because that's still a stupid reason to do it, and the alternative is you really don't know it should be "intents and purposes."

    • by houghi (78078) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:00PM (#33772210)

      Horrendous to keep people in prison without a trial.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RocketRabbit (830691)

      Use, "hikers.". Sure. Keep telling yourself and everybody else they were hikers, I'm suee you will eventually believe it.

      Hikers do not scout out the border regions of Iraq and Iran. Undercover spies do.

    • For that matter (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:10PM (#33772614)

      Who says they didn't do it themselves? I mean since all we've got is weak, conspiracy theory level evidence, let's go for a double secret reverse conspiracy theory: Iran wrote Stuxnet. Their nuclear program was not going as well as they'd hoped. It was faced with setbacks they didn't want to have to acknowledge. Also, they'd really been hoping for an Israeli air strike. That would give them justification on many levels. However everyone was just bitching about it and doing things via diplomatic channels, nobody was attacking. They had nobody but themselves to blame for their problems, and the Jews were not being evil like they should.

      So they write Stuxnet. It'll unleash some havoc in general in western countries which is nice and guarantees news time, but gives them a good excuse as to why their shit isn't done on time. However they don't want it to actually damage anything really important. Also they can't very well go telling people "Ummm secure your shit against this," since it has to be clandestine. So they add a "do not infect" code. They can then stick that code on the systems they need to be actually safe. They make it an obtuse Jewish reference to cast possible suspicion is Israel.

      They let it lose, havoc happens it is big news. Iran says "Ahhh, this has broken our nuclear shit! Those evil Zionists!" They get to play the victim, they have a good explanation as to why things aren't on schedule, they get to arrest people they don't like, etc.

      There you go. Another flimsy conspiracy theory that also fits the very limited available evidence. Hopefully this demonstrates precisely why rushing to assumptions of conspiracies based on minimal evidence is such a bad idea.

      • Re:For that matter (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:24PM (#33772698) Journal

        Another flimsy conspiracy theory that also fits the very limited available evidence. Hopefully this demonstrates precisely why rushing to assumptions of conspiracies based on minimal evidence is such a bad idea.

        Exactly what part of Iran's foreign relations over the last 30+ years would be considered "a good idea"?

        For all the stupid stuff that we Americans might be responsible for, from the Shah to funding Iraq during their war with Iran, Iran has consistently been run by fanatics for decades, and the only reasons that they have not been bombed off the map is that they are a major producer of oil. They all but openly support terrorist organizations all over the globe, and their leadership *obviously* does not reflect the will of the people. I just hope that we figure out how to reduce our dependence on their oil quickly, so that when their citizens finally do rise up into civil war, it won't cause a major worldwide recession/depression. And I hope we stay out of it and just let them settle it themselves.

  • Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:16PM (#33770872) Homepage Journal
    If it were targeted at Iran's nuclear sites by a hostile foreign government, they'd have been a lot more stealthy about it and waited until the thing was in operation to trigger a catastrophic melt-down. I'm sure that the reason it's most prevalent in Iran is due to lax security practices and not some conspiracy against them.
    • Re:Bah! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:19PM (#33770894)
      A catastrophic meltdown benefits nobody. It wouldn't be sufficient to wipe out all of Iran's military capabilities and it would likely cause them to reflexively strike Israel. Not good.
      • Re:Bah! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by plover (150551) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:45PM (#33771060) Homepage Journal

        A catastrophic meltdown benefits nobody. It wouldn't be sufficient to wipe out all of Iran's military capabilities and it would likely cause them to reflexively strike Israel. Not good.

        It would destroy their plant, their centrifuges, and their current ability to enrich uranium, and would give them a giant, expensive mess to clean up. They know if their plant were to be destroyed they would be seen internationally as stupid buffoons incapable of safely executing nuclear tasks, when their goal is to be seen as a mature modern nuclear power who should be taken seriously.

        A meltdown would likely cost them ten years to recover from, and the current regime may be too fragile to survive it.

        Iran is not a completely crazy country. Sure, the leadership is run by corrupt figures who use religious zealotry to organize the poor in order to remain in power, but that's no different than many Western countries. But many Iranians are middle class kinds of people, not the raving lunatics who want to nuke the rest of the world like they portray on TV. It's certainly possible that if the current leaders were to stumble on the national stage that the poor might see them for who they are, and violently remove them from power.

        • Re:Bah! (Score:5, Funny)

          by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:05PM (#33771160)
          I'm glad that this worm didn't cause a meltdown. I have 'Homer leaves a donut in the reactor core' in the Meltdown Pool and would hate to lose my $10 to some governmental conspiracy that isn't even playing.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Sure, the leadership is run by corrupt figures who use religious zealotry to organize the poor in order to remain in power, but that's no different than many Western countries.

          The Republicans are doing a hell of a job - just look at how they took over the TEA Party. The religious nuts are pushing out the libertarians and are ruining something that had a lot of potential.

          • Re:Bah! (Score:4, Informative)

            by Beelzebud (1361137) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:40PM (#33771368)
            Follow the money.

            The tea party has never been a grass roots org. Launched by a stock exchange trader on CNBC throwing a fit, and funded by Dick Armey's Freedom Works; the tea party has always been the Republican Party.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by couchslug (175151)

            "The religious nuts are pushing out the libertarians and are ruining something that had a lot of potential."

            WHAT Libertarians? All two or three of them? There have never been any secular rightists in the US who matter, sad to say.

            Anyone awake knew the Tea Party was a front group for the rich, whose foot soldiers are the Religious Right. That was never in question.

            "Value Voters", my happy ass! Bible Nazis in a Rovian Rerun (and mostly minus Rove) with a massive money infusion from the Koch Brothers is what t

            • Re:Bah! Silly (Score:4, Interesting)

              by DCFusor (1763438) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @09:20PM (#33773680) Homepage
              As one of the Tea Party from near the beginning, nope, that's not me. I'm not a corporatist, not rich, not a religious conservative, none of the above.

              What was started by people who just wanted their constitution back, of course has drawn attempts from all over to co-opt it in some way. Duh....don't you know how things work?

              Even on NPR...they had an "interview" with a Texas woman who was a real tea party organizer, and cut in with some dude who was one of those religious wing nuts (only a member of the tea party, so he said) who basically, right there on the air threatened that if the tea party didn't go his way (org of family something or other) they'd pull out. She said, fine -- you are welcome here, it's a big tent, but nope, we're not going to push your particular cause for you, why not go try and convince the NRA to push laws against abortion -- you're in the wrong place.

              Though NPR is showing signs of seeing blood in the water and not as much a cheerleader of the current majority in government as before, this was their big attempt to discredit the tea party, and it failed pretty badly I think.

              When something like that comes from nowhere and threatens the incumbency machine that is the rebuplocrats -- sure, there's going to be a s**t storm of attempts to discredit it, again, doh.

              If either the dems or the repubs were "for the people" would there be the mickey mouse copyright law? Would pot still be illegal? Wouldn't someone at least have gone to jail over the economic issues? I'm too lazy to type the other five hundred examples, do some homework.

              You might not like the tea party, and for sure it has collected some whack jobs -- big tents do that.

              Wouldn't a bunch of crazy incompetents do a better job than the current batch of well connected thieves?

              I rest my case.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jackbird (721605)
                If either the dems or the repubs were "for the people" would there be the mickey mouse copyright law? Would pot still be illegal? Wouldn't someone at least have gone to jail over the economic issues?

                Do any planks in the Tea Party platform address any of these in a positive way?

        • by santax (1541065)
          Common sense and thinking for yourself instead of only believing what the media and our Generals Staf wants us to 'know'. I love it. Let me get that Karma up for you a bit ;)
        • by Cyberax (705495)

          "It would destroy their plant, their centrifuges, and their current ability to enrich uranium"

          How? Do you seriously think that they are located next to the reactor?

          • by plover (150551) *

            I never said "reactor". I said "plant".

            The enrichment plant is the building (or buildings) that contains the centrifuges, and the centrifuges are the devices located in the plant that they use to enrich the uranium. Yes, I seriously think that if stuxnet causes a coordinated series of centrifuges to fail, that the plant where they enrich the uranium will be seriously damaged by the release of uranium hexafluoride and it will be very difficult to contain and clean up.

        • by X.25 (255792)

          Iran is not a completely crazy country. Sure, the leadership is run by corrupt figures who use religious zealotry to organize the poor in order to remain in power, but that's no different than many Western countries. But many Iranians are middle class kinds of people, not the raving lunatics who want to nuke the rest of the world like they portray on TV. It's certainly possible that if the current leaders were to stumble on the national stage that the poor might see them for who they are, and violently remove them from power.

          Wow. This sounds like you live in Iran, since you know so much.

          You do live in Iran, don't you?

          I mean, you've at least been to Iran once, haven't you?

          Ah, I see.

          • by plover (150551) *

            I know some Iranians, and one used to be in my family. We talked. He certainly wasn't a crazy, and simply wished he could go back home to visit his family. He fled during the revolution (instead of "serving" the aforementioned corrupt and/or crazy people) and could not risk going back, but he certainly stayed in touch.

            But nice ad hominem attack -- "if you're not Iranian, you can only be ignorant." When you wrote this, did you have some kind of point, or are you just yet another bigot who doesn't like ha

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Iran is not a completely crazy country. Sure, the leadership is run by corrupt figures who use religious zealotry to organize the poor in order to remain in power, but that's no different than many Western countries. But many Iranians are middle class kinds of people, not the raving lunatics who want to nuke the rest of the world like they portray on TV. It's certainly possible that if the current leaders were to stumble on the national stage that the poor might see them for who they are, and violently remove them from power.

            Wow. This sounds like you live in Iran, since you know so much.

            You do live in Iran, don't you?

            I mean, you've at least been to Iran once, haven't you?

            Ah, I see.

            I've been to Iran three times since 2003, and I can agree with the person that you are responding to. I've been to three major cities - Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz. I do have relatives there, so I may be biased. The majority of the people that I've met and spoken to are moderates who are stuck under the thumb of an oppressive regime. Every time they try protest, the government mobilizes their armed thugs to quash it. And since weapons are banned in Iran, the citizens have no means of defending themselves.

            It

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by youngone (975102)
              I worked with an Iraqi and an Iranian recently. They had both fought in the Iran/Iraq war, and thought they might have even been on opposite sides of the same battle at one stage. They got on very well as colleges, and when I asked one of them about the war he had fought in, he laughed and said that no-one he knew was under any illusions about it. They did their level best not to get killed, and went out of their way not to kill anyone on the other side as well, if they could help it. He was on the Iranian
    • Re:Bah! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by klingens (147173) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:13PM (#33771196)

      This newsarticle is pure BS. The attack didn't target Bushehr: when Stuxnet became public, Bushehr wasn't even online yet. Stuxnet targeted the iraniane Uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz and presumable other, secret, places. Those all use Siemens PLCs too and the code in Stuxnet for the PLCs is actually geared to break those centrifugues. It's also a much more sensible target IT wise: all the centrifuges are controlled by the same PLCs, the same programs running on each PLC for each centrifuge.
      Corroberating this is that in early 2009 shortly after Stuxnet was known, Iran publically suffered a big setback in nuclear enrichment and the government official in charge of the nuclear program was let go.
      So Stuxnet was successful in its mission to disrupt the nuclear program and heads rolled in Iran while some unspecified intelligence agencies got high fives all around.

      • Re:Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:51PM (#33771770)

        Your post is more or less the wired article linked to a last week. Nataz was certainly targeted by Stuxnet. That said, the news article isn't BS. The news article is reflecting what the Iranians are doing: using Stuxnet to arrest and jail undesirables and furthering their "us vs them" ideology that keeps them in power. Any accident at any plant going forward will not be a sign of incompetence but a sign that western powers are targeting Iranians.

        Anyone that pissed off someone in power at Bushehr is now a spy and will be executed. They'll also probably arrest some foreigners and use them to trade for real spies of their own caught overseas. That's how these oppressive regimes work. Theocracy isnt a valid form of government.

  • by ebcdic (39948) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:38PM (#33771008)

    So called security experts - most of them in fact peddlers of software who depend on the fear of malware for their incomes - are not unbiased commentators. Remember how USL claimed that Unix was too complicated for Berkeley grad students to have replicated without copying their proprietary code? And SCO claimed that Linux couldn't possibly be that good without belonging to them? In fact, there's no software "so sophisticated" that it can't be produced by a bunch of sufficiently dedicated geeks.

    It's an argument particularly appealing to conspiracy theorists - look at how the authors of "The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail" insisted that no-one would expend the effort to forge the documents they relied on, even after the hoax was admitted. You just can't judge this kind of thing on that basis.

    • by jallen02 (124384)

      Only, this is exactly how you WOULD do it if you were to use a botnet component in an information warfare strategy. I direct you to the excellent work of Charlie Miller.. who worked for the NSA and has DONE this type of work before (information warfare against foreign governments). Much of his paper is just plain logic/reason as well. Think about it. Especially with the stolen certificates. If I have stolen certs those are BIG playing cards. Like sitting on golden 0-days. You don't whip those out until you

    • And sometimes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      One guy produces some REALLY sophisticated stuff. One of my favorites, though admittedly obscure examples, is Kega. It is a Sega Genesis emulator written by one guy, Steve Snake, in his spare time. It has gone through many iterations, but back when it was KGen was an amazingly good emulator. So good, in fact, that Sega called him and asked if he'd mind coming and writing an emulator for them for their Smash Pack. That's right, rather than having their array of people do it, they hired one guy because he was

  • Eh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:38PM (#33771012) Homepage

    Rest assured, you'll never catch those in charge. I doubt there are names on it. Maybe an agency, but they aren't going to be dumb enough to step into Iran. Iran is simply using these arrests as as political tool to further their own goals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mr100percent (57156)

      It was never the claim that these arrested people are the ones who wrote the virus.

      The article is quite thin on details, but I assume they arrested people they blame on espionage within the plant; either people with access to the computers (do we know if the infection was via internet or via flash drives?), or those who had detailed knowledge of what specific machinery/PLCs were installed and could pass it on to whomever wrote the custom-tailored virus.

      Instead of knee-jerk saying Iran is arresting for polit

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Well, it's not really a knee jerk reaction as much as "it was true the last 10 times they did it, so it's probably a pretty good bet this time, too".

        • That's a bad way to look at things. We still have trials for repeat criminals, because despite a long record of convictions, they can still be innocent of the specific crime in question.

          • by Dahamma (304068)

            We also have 3 strikes laws for when it becomes a pattern...

            And to be a bit on topic, when someone says things like "our goal is to wipe Israel off the map" and "the United States government planned the 9/11 attacks" he deserves to lose credibility in what he says in the future.

            • That's actually a bit OFF topic. We're talking about Iran, not its figurehead president. (Figurehead in that the Presidency has no control over the military nor over Parliament nor the Guardian Council)

              Yes, Ahmadinejad said the US government planned 9/11, which is repugnant enough but I can see his rational basis for trying to make the claim; he's trying to be a populist like Hugo Chavez. Repugnant, but not stupid.

              However, he didn't say "our goal is to wipe Israel off the map." He said (in Farsi) "The Imam

    • by linumax (910946)
      It's a pretty typical thing in Iran. Whenever something goes wrong, be it a bombing, an armed conflict against the regime or something relatively untraceable like Stuxnet, within a few days, a bunch of people (often little known political prisoners) are paraded on TV, admit that they did it and they were fooled by CIA, Mossad, etc. and then no one ever hears about them again.
      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Except for the YouTube video of them being stoned. As in people tossing large rocks to hit them in the head, vs. some enjoyable afternoon activity.

    • never waste a good crisis.

      A good way to clean out those who were not toeing the line properly. I am sure a few foes will vanish. I am sure the UN's Human Rights Council or whatever that farce is now called will not bat an eye, well maybe they will find a way to blame Jews for it.

  • As in, you have the worm, so you created or spread it?

    That "possession is proof of the crime" is an attribute of the legal system here, and it is getting ever cheaper to use it to your benefit: Where once you had to drop some serious cash buying coke to plant on your targets, now you just link them to an autodownloader that drops some child porn on their computer(s). You don't even have to run the risk of linking yourself to the incident by ratting 'em out...some eager-beaver IT type or an automated sent
  • I wouldn't like to be the name in the telephone directory that the pin landed on when identifying the 'spies'.

    Phillip.

  • More to come?

    We Americans haven't had such good luck in Iran. The Shah was a wipe. Look where that left us.

    So now, they have in their possession a virus specifically designed to take down infrastructure. Doesn't Iran have computer specialists too? How long before they simply reverse-engineer this virus and use it against us? Against Israel? Their neighbors?

    Reminds me of the Viet Cong digging up our landmines only to replant them in our own path. Cheap, effective and has the "value added" aspect--the enemy f

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