Introducing the sixth member of the cyber superpower club
The Stuxnet virus was about to make history. Transferred via USB into Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility in mid-2009, the virus went to work, subtly tearing down the facility’s infrastructure. What made this historical was not its digital potency, but the fact that this virus impacted the physical, slowly wreaking havoc on the centrifuges, causing major delays to Iran’s nuclear program—precisely as Stuxnet’s creators had planned. The worm gradually increased pressure in the centrifuges, bemusing Iranian scientists and engineers. Under the increasing pressure, the centrifuges wore out quickly, forcing Tehran to replace them.
It was mid-2010 before Iran caught on and was able to tackle the virus. But then something happened. Something that Stuxnet’s creators didn’t plan for. A seed was planted in the minds of the Iranian elite: a plan to develop an Iranian cyber program capable of defending Iranian tech and attacking that of its enemies.