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Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 18 Adar I 5784
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Stealth Virus

In 2010, it became known that a computer virus, Stuxnet, had succeeded in penetrating the most secure nuclear enrichment facilities in Iran. The malicious code was introduced to the target computers through a thumb drive. Once it succeeded in infiltrating the system, it spread secretly for months while quietly scanning the system, trying to find the computer responsible for monitoring a vital function in the nuclear plant. When Stuxnet identified its prey, it slipped into the system without anyone noticing and took charge.

The programs affected were responsible for controlling the centrifuges (which processed uranium to a level of enrichment needed for making nuclear weapons). The virus caused the centrifuges to erratically slow down and then accelerate to speeds so high that their rotors were damaged. At the same time, the virus also caused the control system to send out a signal that everything was functioning correctly. The full extent of the damage to Iran's nuclear program is still unknown, but what is clear is that they have had to replace over 1000 centrifuges; or, in other words, rebuild the whole mechanism from the ground up.

The Stuxnet virus demonstrates how vulnerable secure military installations and industrial machinery and equipment are to cyber attack by invisible operators. For years, experts warned against such a thing, and described horrifying scenarios if terror organizations were to use these technologies against civilian infrastructure. Thank G-d, when it did happen at last, the attack was directed against the Iranian regime, the source of the greatest threat of global terror today.

There is a verse in Proverbs that states, "G-d has created the world with all forces in balance." Every force in the world can be used for either positive, beneficial purposes or for negative, destructive ones. Lately, however, we have been seeing a global process unfold, which affirms the statement of our sages, "The measure of good is greater than the measure of punishment." Finally, the scale is starting to tip towards the forces of good.

The power of good is not always openly expressed, to put it mildly. In particular when we are talking about the military, a force for death and destruction. But lately we have been seeing how even these forces are being channeled towards productive purposes. We are using the military to crush evil, but not to harm people. In most recent days we have seen citizens rising up against the oppressive regimes in their own countries, armed with nothing more than their cellphones – cyberpower at its finest – and conquering the armed military forces.

Without even noticing it we have already entered the era where the prophecy of Isaiah, "They shall beat their swords to plowshares and their spears to pruning hooks" is being fulfilled. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe predicted, the military is now dismantling some of its equipment and channeling it to civilian and agricultural use. We are closer than ever to a time when the tools of war will be retired completely.



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