it’s william gibson’s world…

We just live in it.

Take a look at this video, and imagine seeing it in 1985. It would have been science fiction, pure and simple.

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus from Patrick Clair on Vimeo.

Stuxnet may raise an interesting problem. Open source is a great thing, but will likely come under fire for a.) making a powerful, dangerous piece of code available and b.) being asymmetrical, so far, in that it hasn’t solved the problem it ‘created.’ This will give ammunition to the security arm of the government and its commercial allies.

(HT to Mr. Sullivan’s The Dish, where I spotted this.)

Second thought: in what way is Stuxnet ‘open source?’ I kinda doubt it’s released under the gpl license and has a team of developers following open source rules such as contributing code back upstream, checking in modifications, a release schedule. (Though there was an informal request from one group for anyone downloading the decompiled code to do just that. Still, you can’t go to the ‘Stuxnet’ web site and buy the tee shirt, get the complete source.)

Maybe the authors mean open source as in ‘you can get it off the interwebs,’ in which case it’s not any different than lots of other malicious software that thieves and such pass around. The more accurate description of Stuxnet might be Samizdat software, or even better, crimeware.

Third thought: The more you consider it, the less Stuxnet fits any definition of ‘open source,’ reasonable or unreasonable.

Facts:

– It runs on Windows. True, there is lots of open source software for Windows, but the heart of the open source community is elsewhere.

– It relies on stolen, proprietary information to work. Stuxnet couldn’t infect anything without a couple of security certificates/passwords that were in place to keep a closed source system safe.

– It was apparently developed in secret, by coders who used four ‘zero day’ exploits.

Everything in the list of what Stuxnet is suggests a closed source operation. That the code to the software might be ‘available’ no more makes it open source than pirated Microsoft source code is open source, the only difference being no one is going to step up and sue you for using Stuxnet, thereby exposing their role in this dirty business.

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