The U.S. government turned to cyber experts at the Idaho National Laboratory to analyze the Stuxnet computer virus when it first came out.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently offered the first major tour of the facility and let reporters visit its malware laboratory.
"The virus was brought back in here and run in a contained facility against actual control system equipment so that we could study those effects to release mitigation measures to the general public," says DHS' Marty Edwards. "In general, we found that Stuxnet was a very sophisticated virus that was looking for a very specific control system," he says. "And manipulated that system for ill-intent."
DHS is worried that cyberattacks could severely damage the U.S.'s industrial base. "It is probably the most important security issue that we face today," says DHS' Greg Schaffer. "This is a problem that continues to grow."
However, Edwards downplays the risk of a Stuxnet-like attack. "All of the industrial control systems that are deployed have some type of susceptibility to attacks like Stuxnet," Edwards concedes. "But through the efforts that we have partnered with industry on, I can tell you that there is very good progress being made to protect the systems."
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