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Good intelligence cannot save bad government

Iran finally confirmed a massive Stuxnet trojan attack on its industrial computers. The trojan targets Siemens programmable logic controllers, which are used mainly in power automation. Iran uses them in Bushehr and Natanz, among other places.

Though the malware infected Siemens factories in Germany and other power sites, Iran is the only likely target for the mammoth half-megabyte exploit which exploits a whopping four previously-undisclosed vulnerabilities. Each such zero-day vulnerability costs several million dollars on the black market. The programmers needed ready access to Siemens PLC devices, and Israeli involvement is certain.

The trojan was detected by a Belorussian software company with close ties to the Russian government. Since the malware was not in public circulation, it follows that the Iranians contracted Russians to investigate major malfunctions in their power systems. PLC trojans usually sabotage industrial systems by increasing power in cables or pressure in pipes beyond their capacity, causing explosions. Such a malfunction probably caused the reported slowdown at Natanz.

Yet, by its excellent work Israeli intelligence plays into Obama’s hands, because the slowdown in enrichment allows him time for procrastination. No amount of sabotage can take the place of an attack on Iran.

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