There is no independent confirmation that Bushehr or Natanz or anyplace else has been attacked by a directed cyberweapon. But competing theories are emerging about Stuxnet's target. Here are two from a cybersecurity duo from Germany who have worked, separately, on deconstructing Stuxnet – and why they think what they do.
Ralph Langner is no Middle East policy wonk or former diplomat privy to insider information. He is a German software security engineer with a particular expertise in industrial control system software created by industrial giant Siemens for use in factories, refineries, and power plants worldwide.
This week, Mr. Langner became the first person to detail Stuxnet's peculiar attack features. He explained, for example, how Stuxnet "fingerprints" each industrial network it infiltrates to determine if it has identified the right system to destroy. Stuxnet was developed to attack just one target in the world, Langner says and other experts confirm. His best guess as to the target?
During an interview with the Monitor about Stuxnet's technical capabilities, Langner pointed at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. He cites shards of information he has gleaned from open sources, including news accounts, as well as his technical understanding of the attack software. Here are his main arguments for his case.
• Iran is the epicenter of the Stuxnet infection. Geographic studies by Microsoft, Symantec, and others show the majority of infections to be in Iran, making it a likely location for Stuxnet's presumed target.
• Bushehr is a high-value target. Damaging the nuclear power plant would deal a blow to Iran – a blow that would be worth the considerable time and money a government would expend to develop such as sophisticated cyberweapon.