Stuxnet was 'good idea': former CIA chief

March 2, 2012
An Iranian security man stands next to journalists outside the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran in 2010. The Stuxnet computer virus sabotage of Iran's nuclear program was a "good idea" but it lent legitimacy to the use of malicious software as a weapon, according to a former CIA director.

The Stuxnet computer virus sabotage of Iran's nuclear program was a "good idea" but it lent legitimacy to the use of malicious software as a weapon, according to a former CIA director.

"We have entered into a new phase of conflict in which we use a to create physical destruction," retired general Michael Hayden said in an interview with the CBS television show "60 Minutes" to be aired on Sunday.

"This was a good idea, alright?" Hayden said of Stuxnet in excerpts from the interview released by CBS.

"But I also admit this was a big idea, too," he said. "The rest of the world is looking at this and saying 'Clearly, someone has legitimated this kind of activity as acceptable.'

"There are those out there who can take a look at this... and maybe even attempt to turn it to their own purposes," he said.

Hayden served as director of the from 2006 to early 2009. He headed the top secret from 1999 to 2005.

Hayden was no longer CIA director when the Stuxnet attack occurred and CBS said he denied in the interview knowing who was behind it.

Suspicion has fallen on Israel and the United States, which have accused Iran of seeking to develop a weapons capability under the cover of a civilian nuclear drive. Tehran denies the charges.

Sean McGurk, a former cybersecurity official in the , expressed concern that Stuxnet could be redirected by terrorists or a rogue country against power, water or even in the United States.

"You can download the actual source code of Stuxnet now and you can repackage it... point it back to wherever it came from," McGurk told 60 Minutes.

McGurk, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, said he would have advised against the use of such a weapon.

"They opened the box," he said. "They demonstrated the capability... it's not something that can be put back."

Stuxnet, which was detected in July 2010, targeted computer control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens and commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other critical infrastructure.

Most Stuxnet infections were discovered in Iran, giving rise to speculation it was intended to sabotage nuclear facilities there, especially the Russian-built atomic power plant in the southern city of Bushehr.

According to computer security firm Symantec, Stuxnet may have been specifically designed to disrupt the motors that power gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Explore further: US does not know source, purpose of Stuxnet worm: official

Related Stories

No apparent Stuxnet impact in US: cyber official

December 7, 2010

Computer software targeted by Stuxnet is used in US infrastructure but the virus does not appear to have affected any systems in the United States, a US cybersecurity official said Tuesday.

Computer expert says US behind Stuxnet worm

March 3, 2011

A German computer security expert said Thursday he believes the United States and Israel's Mossad unleashed the malicious Stuxnet worm on Iran's nuclear program.

Symantec warns of new Stuxnet-like virus

October 19, 2011

US security firm Symantec has warned of a new computer virus similar to the malicious Stuxnet worm believed to have preyed on Iran's nuclear program.

Iran says Duqu malware under 'control'

November 13, 2011

Iran said on Sunday it had found a way to "control" the computer malware Duqu, which is similar to Stuxnet virus which in 2010 attacked its nuclear programme and infected more than 30,000 computers.

Recommended for you

Robo-whiskers mimic animals exploring their surroundings

August 4, 2015

Many mammals, including seals and rats, rely on their whiskers to sense their way through dark environments. Inspired by these animals, scientists working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois' Advanced ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

OldBlackCrow
5 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2012
So, if this is now acceptable ... without Congress declaring war, then we have certainly crossed the line from "defenders of the Constitution " to terrorists. Oh, never mind, we crossed that line ages ago... this is just a new front.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.