Monday, November 29, 2010

Two tidbits of computer security news today

The New York Times has been digging into the WikiLeaks cable traffic, and reports that the leaked documents appear to confirm that China's Politburo ordered the Google hacking intrusions:

China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, Wired Magazine's Threat Level blog is reporting today that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be confirming that the Stuxnet virus did in fact affect the operation of the nuclear-enrichment centrifuges at Iran's Natanz facility:

Frequency-converter drives are used to control the speed of a device. Although it’s not known what device Stuxnet aimed to control, it was designed to vary the speed of the device wildly but intermittently over a span of weeks, suggesting the aim was subtle sabotage meant to ruin a process over time but not in a way that would attract suspicion.

“Using nuclear enrichment as an example, the centrifuges need to spin at a precise speed for long periods of time in order to extract the pure uranium,” Symantec’s Liam O Murchu told Threat Level earlier this month. “If those centrifuges stop to spin at that high speed, then it can disrupt the process of isolating the heavier isotopes in those centrifuges … and the final grade of uranium you would get out would be a lower quality.”

The entire Threat Level report is fascinating; it reads like a movie script, but apparently it's real life.

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