Stuxnet worm heralds new era of global cyberwar

The memory sticks were scattered in a washroom at a US military base in the Middle East that was providing support for the Iraq war.They were deliberately infected with a computer worm, and the undisclosed foreign intelligence agency behind the operation was counting on the fallibility of human nature. According to those familiar with the events, it calculated that a soldier would pick up one of the memory sticks, pocket it and – against regulations – eventually plug it into a military laptop.It was correct.

If the Stuxnet attack on Iran was a limited act of cyber sabotage, on Tuesday the US attempted to imagine what an all-out cyber war might look like and whether it was equipped to deal with it.In an exercise named Cyber Storm III, involving government agencies and 60 private sector organisations including the banking, chemical, nuclear energy and IT sectors, it presented a scenario where America was hit by a co-ordinated cyber shock-and-awe campaign, hitting 1,500 different targets. The results of the exercise have not been released.

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