Design and Violence

STUXNET: ANATOMY OF A COMPUTER VIRUS

Patrick Clair, 2011

Code as weapon

This motion infographic unpacks, animates, and visualises the inner workings of Stuxnet, the first computer virus known to spy on and reprogram industrial systems.

Stuxnet is a computer virus considered to be the world’s first weaponised piece of software. Discovered in 2010, it is designed to spy on and reprogram industrial systems. Delivered via a USB thumb drive, it disrupts specific programming instructions that typically control automated manufacturing and monitoring used in assembly lines and industrial plants. By exploiting security gaps, the virus was able to destroy 20% of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, while relaying normal readings to the plant operators. The attack, most likely part of covert warfare against Iran’s nuclear facilities by the U.S. and Israel, was described in the journal Foreign Policy as one that “changed global military strategy in the 21st century.” Its creators still remain at large.