The 2007 Stuxnet virus attack perpetrated against Iran's then-budding nuclear program was made possible after U.S. and Israeli intelligence coordinated with Dutch intelligence agency AIVD to recruit an Iranian engineer as a mole who could infect Iran's enrichment plant near Natanz, Yahoo News reported this week.
The engineer initially provided data that helped Stuxnet's authors develop code that specifically targeted the plant's systems. Later, that same insider entered the facility by posing as a mechanic, and either directly downloaded the virus into its systems via a USB flash drive, or infected the system of a facility engineer, who would later unknowingly spread the virus, the report continues, citing multiple intelligence sources.
The Stuxnet campaign, which was nicknamed Operation Olympic Games, was designed to sabotage and stall Iran’s nuclear ambitions while nations sought a means to end the program through sanctions and diplomacy. The virus infected programmable logic controllers (PLCs) from Siemens, causing destruction when the exit valves on certain centrifuges would close, trapping gas and raising internal pressure, or when the Iranian nuclear centrifuges operating via these PLCs would secretly spin out of control and break.
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