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By Margaret J. Goldstein,Martin Gitlin

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Extra resources for Cyber Attack

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They argue that such attacks, especially on a large nation like the United States, would do only limited and short-term damage. The damage would be much more severe if a nation’s nuclear stockpiles were attacked. Thomas D’Agostino, former head of the US National Nuclear Security Administration, explained that US nuclear labs “are under constant attack” from hackers looking to steal nuclear-technology secrets. To prevent enemies from taking remote control of US nuclear weapons, the systems that control these weapons are “airgapped”—that is, they are disconnected from the Internet.

When computer security experts found the worm, they renamed it Stuxnet—a combination of several keywords contained in the software. With the worm exposed, President Obama pondered whether to shut down Olympic Games. In the end, he decided to continue with the attacks that summer, successfully destroying nearly one thousand centrifuges at Natanz and temporarily slowing down 48 cyber attack Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Following that attack, Iranian security experts figured out how to detect Stuxnet and remove it from computers.

More than fifty countries, including the United States, have signed on to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, which went into effect in 2004. The convention sets official definitions for different types of cyber crimes, provides guidelines for investigating and prosecuting the crimes, and outlines ways for nations to cooperate in the pursuit of cyber criminals. International associations such as the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union, the Group of Eight (an association of leading industrialized nations), and the European Union also have anti–cyber crime units, enabling nations to coordinate efforts in the fight against cyber crime.

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