Stuxnet, the complex computer worm that nearly crippled Iran's still-functioning nuclear program, didn't just sprout from the ether. It was created, by Man, and was probably tested in Israel at the massive (and oft-unacknowledged) Dimona nuclear facility.
Previously, Dimona was the center of Israel's super secret nuclear arms program. Located in the Negev desert, it has never been acknowledged as anything but a—well, anything really, but conventional wisdom says the arms and fuel are there.
Today, however, Dimona is also being labeled as the front in the burgeoning "cyber war." According to experts in a piece over at the New York Times, in amongst the actual nukes and nuke fuel at Dimona is a mock nuclear bomb testing ground that's nearly identical to Natanz, Iran's uranium enrichment facility.
One Smart Worm
Like Danny Ocean and his band of Las Vegas-robbing companions, Israeli (and U.S.) scientists and hackers allegedly used this mock facility to perfect the Stuxnet computer worm and then deploy it within the real deal over in Iran. And deploy it they did, with the effects, speaking of Ocean's Eleven, playing out just like a movie:
The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran's nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.
It would appear as though the practice made perfect, as the now well-known Stuxnet attack—initially launched in 2009—appears to have set the Iranian nuke program back "several years," say officials like Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Israel, for its part, believes the wounded Iranian nuke program will not bear the country any destructive fruit before 2015.
It should be noted that the U.S. and Israel have never officially acknowledged any involvement with the worm's development. They won't even talk about it in the general sense! This fact, unsurprisingly, has not stopped the Iranians from claiming the worm smelled strangely of the Pentagon.