The Stuxnet Worm? More Than 30 People Built It

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WASHINGTON -- Details about the Stuxnet worm, a highly-engineered piece of malicious software that targeted industrial control systems, have trickled out since it made international news earlier this fall. The sophistication of the malware combined with its ability to target the controllers that run power plants and other infrastructure facilities impressed many security experts.

At a small conference on cybersecurity sponsored by TechAmerica, Symantec's Brian Tillett put a number on the size of the team that built the virus. He said that traces of more than 30 programmers have been found in source code.

Another tidbit that I hadn't seen reported elsewhere is that the peer-to-peer network built into the worm was encrypted. And not only was it encrypted, Tillett noted, but encrypted to FIPS 140-2 standards, which -- judging by the noise of the crowd -- is very impressive to security geeks.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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