Report: U.S., Israel Co-Developed The Devastating Stuxnet Worm

Brad Chacos

With the hyper-advanced Flame malware wreaking havoc in the Middle East, researchers are pondering if it's related to the Stuxnet worm that devastated Iranian nuclear facilities -- and trying to figure out who made the darned thing. Well, if Flame is related to Stuxnet, the second question can be answered with a fair amount of certainty, as the New York Times released a long, detailed report today claiming that Stuxnet is a joint U.S - Israeli venture created during Bush's time in office and continued by the Obama administration.

David E. Sanger received his information from "current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts," but all remain anonymous since the Stuxnet program is still highly classified and ongoing, the Times reports.

Stuxnet is a highly specialized worm that targets specific industrial controls that run Iran's nuclear program . According to the Times report, the NSA and a clandestine Israeli cyberunit began developing the worm in 2006 as alternative to air strikes Israel planned to make on the Iranian facilities. Obama sped up the program once he took office, though he considered shutting it down when a component of the worm leaked outside of the Iranian buildings in July 2010 and was subsequently discovered by security researchers. The administration was worried discovery of the worm would lead other nations and organizations to use similar computer-crackin' tactics.

As the U.S. didn't have a Plan B in place, President Obama decided to press on with the program, and the computers in Iran's main Natanz facility were hit with new variations of Stuxnet in the following weeks. The final version took over 1,000 uranium centrifuges offline -- a fifth of all the working centrifuges Iran was operating at the time.

Check out the New York Times report for a whole lot more information. The article is investigative journalism at its finest: Sanger names names, dates, agencies and locations. Neither the Israeli nor the U.S. government has issued a comment.

Image credit: Jorge Hernandez/Flickr

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