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Following its discovery in June 2010, the Stuxnet worm caused a worldwide sensation. It is the first publicly known rootkit attack targeted at industrial plants. It has infected tens of thousands of PCs, and abused and manipulated automation software running on Windows® operating systems. Its ultimate purpose: to infiltrate malicious code into the controllers of specific real-world industrial installations.
Experts have long warned that malware and insufficient IT security pose a threat to automation networks, but Stuxnet offers concrete proof that these threats can no longer be ignored. The actual hazard, however, no longer originates from Stuxnet itself, but rather comes from mutations that copycats can now create with the same basic techniques. And while Stuxnet focused on products from the Siemens SIMATIC family and on STEP 7 PLC projects with very specific properties, such mutations could affect components from other vendors as well, ultimately turning out malware a lot less selective in its damaging impact.
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