Outlines the potential unintended consequences (blowback) resulting from the USG's apparent covert action employing Stuxnet.
Jason Healey | June 01, 2012
The United States government has apparently struck a blow against the Iranian nuclear enrichment capability by using Stuxnet to disable centrifuges. While this cyber weapon destroyed centrifuges and seized up the enrichment process, the cost in American cyber power ultimately will not have been worth these limited gains.
On the plus side, the United States has struck against some of the world’s most terrible organizations working towards the world’s most horrible weapons. If the Iranians ever did build and use a nuclear weapon, we would have regretted missing any chance to disrupt that process. Given the implications, it is understandable that two US presidents authorized and continued a covert program of cyber force to disrupt Iranian nuclear ambitions.
However, not all good ideas, and even fewer covert ones, should be executed. Though it did not cause any physical damage outside of the intended target of Iranian enrichment plants, Stuxnet somehow sprung loose from its intended target and spread in computers – and headlines – around the world. And this leak (along with those from the White House) led to the many downsides.
Few in the world will ever believe the peaceful motives of the United States in cyberspace again, giving us even less leverage to ensure this new cyber dimension develops in a way encompassing America’s wider economic and security interests.
Cyberspace is “the backbone that underpins a prosperous economy and a strong military and an open and efficient government,” according to President Obama. Because of this importance, not much more than a year ago, the president committed the United States to “work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable” cyberspace “built on norms of responsible behavior.” He wrote that, “While offline challenges and aggression have made their way to the digital world, we will confront them consistent with the principles we hold dear: free speech and association, privacy, and the free flow of information. The digital world is no longer a lawless frontier … It is a place where the norms of responsible, just and peaceful conduct among states and peoples have begun to take hold. ”
Stuxnet was not an act of peaceful conduct.
Phi Beta Iota: The only thing worse that launching Stuxnet is claiming false credit for something we did not actually do. The Israeli Zionists are howling–gentiles have once again proven they are too stupid to be “counted.”