Contributed by Andrew Jenkins

Imagine a future when a virus is smart enough to evade detection, and stealthily spread between computers, even ones that are not networked together. Thanks to a virus called Stuxnet that future has become the present. Stuxnet is a computer virus that targets specific industrial control systems. Industrial control systems are used in manufacturing systems as well as to control electrical, water and power plants. Stuxnet’s main goal was to damage centrifuge rotors inside the Natanz Nuclear Fuel Enrichment Plant located in Iran. It seeks to reach this goal through the use of two methods. Stuxnet is unique because it is one of the first cyber-physical attacks in history. This kind of attack is computer or cyber based but the result causes physical damage. This paper seeks to describe how Stuxnet functioned and how such a threat can be prevented in the future.

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