The Stuxnet virus, an advanced worm that has been spreading around the Internet since 2010, has been revealed as a combined effort by the U.S. and Israel to cripple Iran's nuclear program. The virus was created as part of an operation called Olympic Games, started under the Bush Administration and continued under President Obama, according to David E. Sanger's new book Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.
Initially meant to target Iran's Natanz nuclear plant, the virus broke loose in 2010 due to a programming error. In an emergency Situation Room meeting, Obama approved continued cyberattacks on the Natanz plant, and more advanced versions of Stuxnet eventually took out 1,000 of Iran's 5,000 uranium-processing centrifuges.
According to Sanger, Olympic Games "appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country's infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives."
The future of the virus is uncertain, but the administration has considered using it in North Korea, China and Syria.
Sanger's book is due out next Tuesday.