Wouldn’t you know it? Just as soon as Iran finishes cleaning the Stuxnet virus out of their computer systems, along comes the Duqu virus, which is based on similar code that certainly could not have come from CIA and Mossad programmers, because they were all playing World of Warcraft together when it was written, and therefore have airtight alibis. Fox News surveys the digital damage in Iran:
Iranian officials admitted Sunday that they had uncovered evidence of the Duqu computer virus — labeled “Son of Stuxnet” by cyber experts — at the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites, state-controlled IRNA news agency reported.
“We are in the initial phase of fighting the Duqu virus,” Gholamreza Jalali, was quoted as saying. “The final report which says which organizations the virus has spread to and what its impacts are has not been completed yet.”
Stuxnet cost the Iranians years of nuclear weapons progress, and now Duqu has been running amok in their systems since April. It’s a “remote access Trojan” virus that gives hackers access to infected systems. Computerworld has talked with security experts who have varying opinions about the severity of the Duqu threat. “A lot of security analysts believe that it is a precursor to the next Stuxnet,” says Computerworld, “and poses a grave threat to the industrial control systems that manage equipment at critical infrastructure facilities such as power plants and water treatment facilities.”
On the other hand, “The U.S. ICS Computer Emergency Response Team initially issued a warning for critical infrastructure owners to be on the alert for Duqu. Later, however, it issued an update saying that neither industrial control systems (ICSs) nor vendors/manufacturers were targeted by Duqu.” The ICS team is part of the National Cyber Security Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which sometimes plays World of Warcraft with the CIA, but otherwise has no connection whatsoever to them, no matter what angry Iranian doomsday scientists with blank hard drives might say.
The BBC reported yesterday that Iran claims “the software to control the virus has been developed and made available to organizations and corporations.” This announcement came from Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali, the same guy who just said Iran was in the “initial stages” of fighting the virus. Wow, those Iranian programmers work fast!
The Beeb also has the amusing detail that Duqu was initially spread by “an email from an individual identifying himself as Mr B Jason who requested a joint business venture.” This is thought to be “a reference to the Jason Bourne books and spy movies.” The email was written in a virus-laced font named “Dexter Regular,” a shout-out to Showtime’s long-running TV series about a serial killer who preys on other killers. This is ironclad proof the CIA and Mossad could not have been behind Duqu, because they do not have a sense of humor.
Coincidentally, even as Iran is grappling with this viral setback to its wonderful nuclear weapons program, there was a freak explosion at a Revolutionary Guard ammo dump near Tehran on Saturday, which killed sixteen Iranian troops plus their commander, Hassan Moqaddam, who just happens to have been known as “the ‘architect’ of Iran’s missile program,” according to CBS News. The Iranians have taken great pains to insist this was not an act of Israeli sabotage, which means it probably was:
Former Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, who is now executive editor of “Bloomberg View,” tells CBS News it is “certainly plausible” that the explosion was an assassination – part of Israel’s “slow effort to deny Iran having a nuclear weapon.”
Rubin says the battery of sanctions levied by the Obama administration, the United Nations and Europe simply “aren’t working” and the only other way to effectively deter Iran is militarily.
But war with Iran would have “very, very serious consequences for the region,” says Rubin, so if Israel and its allies can continue to delay the specter of war with small, covert programs, “that is a better option than having to face this yes or now question of starting another war in the Middle East.”
The invisible war continues, and every day Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon is a victory.