Stuxnet, Flame Foretell Age of Cyber Warfare

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HERZLIYA, Israel -- Fifty years ago when computers were in their infancy, one might fill an entire room. Today, the world revolves around computers, and many people carry one in their hand.

This dependence has also made the world a dangerous place.

Age of 'The Terminator'

In "The Terminator" movie series, machines take over the world. On Independence Day, a computer virus saves the world from alien invasion. All of this sounds farfetched, yet cyber warfare isn't limited to Hollywood.

Computer experts at the cyber-security firm Kaspersky Labs recently discovered two of the most complex computer programs ever designed for sabotage and espionage, called Stuxnet and Flame.

According to The New York Times, the United States and Israel developed the computer virus, Stuxnet, and used it to destroy a key part of Iran's nuclear program.

Many suspect the two countries also designed the Flame virus, a program to spy and gather information.

"That was a shock to us because we didn't expect to find such a serious, very professional, huge project," Eugene Kaspersky told CBN News. "The typical criminal malware, that's a bicycle. Stuxnet is a car. Flame, it's a space shuttle," he said.

Kaspersky's specialty is IT security and his workers in Moscow discovered Stuxnet and Flame. Those discoveries told him the world had entered a new era.

"It means we are living in the age of cyber weapons and cyber wars. As I see the future of this world, I'm afraid it will be the place for many cyber-attacks with many unpredictable results," Kaspersky said.

These sophisticated, complicated computer programs can only be developed by countries. Now many nations have built cyber warfare divisions.

"The world as I understand it, the cyber world, is in danger," Kaspersky warned. "Because we depend on IT, we depend on computer systems and they're not just on your table and they're not just in your mobile phone in your pocket, it's everywhere. It's transportation, factories, it's power plants, air traffic. Everything depends on computer systems."

'Live Free, Die Hard'

Kaspersky hopes countries will sit down and agree not to use cyber weapons. But he's really concerned about what he says is next.

"The next I'm afraid is cyber terrorism and I'm afraid this is the worst case scenario," he said.

And what could cyber terrorism look like? A clip from the action film, "Live Free and Die Hard," may give us preview.

"FAA just issued a critical alert," one of the film's characters warns in a scene from the film. "The entire network went down."

When Kaspersky watched this action film, he knew Hollywood dramatized his worst cyber nightmare.

"I'm afraid now we're in the very beginning of cyber wars age. I'm afraid it's not the end of the story," he said.

*Original broadcast June 14, 2012. 

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