In you haven’t heard of Project Aurora, this is a wonderful segment from 60 Minutes on this cyberwar project.
Faced with some of the worst case scenarios for cybergeddon, Idaho National Labs set out in 2007 to test what would happen to a 27-ton power generator if the researchers hacked into it from a mere laptop.
The turbine was sent instructions that would essentially tear itself apart–and in the video you can see what happened–it shudders, shakes, smokes, and ultimately destroys itself.
The test was a grand success demonstrating our capabilities to conduct cyberwar operations against an adversary.
Interestingly, Reuters reported the Symantec researchers “uncovered a version of Stuxnet from the end of 2007 that was used to destroy two years later about 1,000 Iranian centrifuges used in their Natanz nuclear uranium enrichment facility for alleged development of weapons of mass destruction.
The flip side of this cyberwar test is the realization of the potential blowback risk of cyberweapons–where adversaries can use similar technology over the Internet against our critical infrastructure–such as SCADA industrial control systems for the power grid, water treatment, manufacturing, and more–and cause potentially catastrophic events.
As stated toward the end of the video, this is a type of “pre 9/11 moment” where we identify a serious threat and our vulnerability and we need to act to prevent it–the question is will we?