A Russian cosmonaut brought a USB drive to space and unknowingly infected the space station with the Stuxnet virus. The news of the infection was released by Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Kaspersky Labs. Kaspersky Labs is one of the world’s largest anti-malware and information security companies.
Kaspersky spoke to reporters in Australia saying, “The space guys from time-to-time are coming with USBs, which are infected. I’m not kidding. I was talking to Russian space guys and they said, ‘yeah, from time-to-time there are viruses on the space station.”
The Stuxnet virus is believed to have been developed as part of a joint project between US and Israel cyber units as a weapon to disrupt Iran’s nuclear enrichment plans. In 2010 Stuxnet infected Siemens Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) causing severe damage to centrifuges in Iranian uranium enrichment facilities. This set Iran’s nuclear weapons program back several years.
Its spread into the wild has made the Stuxnet code available to cyber criminals who may use it for any means they desire. The malware is spread thru removable media like USB drives and CD-ROMs. Stuxnet exploits a vulnerability in Windows, then spreads over the network when that infected system communicates with other systems. Stuxnet attacks portions of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems that govern critical infrastructure, such as power plants, which are extremely vulnerable. The public became aware of Stuxnet after it worked better than expected, infecting millions of computers worldwide. And now it’s an interstellar threat.