A large number of Iranian centrifuges suddenly started to blow up around 2008-9 soon after President Barack Obama's inauguration. The mystery was finally resolved in the summer of 2010 when a computer worm later named Stuxnet escaped Iran’s Natanz plant and spread around the world on the Internet.
New York Times' David Sanger reported that the United States and Israel developed Stuxnet and then tested it by building replicas of the Iranian Natanz plant equipped with Pakistani P-1 centrifuge designed in 1980s. Americans obtained P-1 centrifuges from Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi and dismantled them to learn how it worked. P-1 uses a Siemens controller S7-417. Stuxnet inserted malware in the Siemens controller to suddenly change the centrifuge speed which caused its destruction. It was designed to attack computers with specific configuration of Siemens S7-417 controller. Here's how New York Times' David Sanger described the test results:
"After several false starts, it worked. One day, toward the end of Mr. Bush’s term, the rubble of a centrifuge was spread out on the conference table in the Situation Room, proof of the potential power of a cyberweapon. The worm was declared ready to test against the real target: Iran’s underground enrichment plant."
US Left-of-Launch Attack Against North Korea:
A very high percentage of North Korean missile launches failed in the period from 2015 to 2017. The missiles either blew up on the launchpads or failed soon after launch. These failures are widely attributed to American cyber attacks.
American strategists see Left-of-Launch cyber weapons as a low-cost extension of their missile defense strategy. Gen. James Dickinson, the chief of Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command, explains it as follows:
“You’ve probably heard the conversation about how we’re on the wrong side of the cost curve for missile defense many times. We’re utilizing multi-million-dollar interceptors against very inexpensive missiles and those types of threats, So it’s a balance. It has to be a balance between the end game, if you will, where we’re relying on an interceptor to defeat the threat and other approaches."
Russia's Information Warfare in US, UK:
The United States and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of using social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to exploit and deepen divisions during the US presidential elections and the UK's Brexit referendum in 2016.
American and British intelligence officials believe Russia used all major social media platform to spread words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump. Similar allegations have been made by the British government about Russian interference to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote in the U.K.
Facebook, Google and Twitter acknowledged in 2017 that they had identified Russian interference on their sites. The companies have responded to the threat — Facebook, in particular, created a “war room” in 2018 to fight interference around elections — but none has revealed interference around US midterm elections in 2017 on the same scale as in 2016.
Cyber Weapons Code and Tools Leaks:
Stuxnet worm and recently leaked NSA's hacking tools by Shadow Brokers have revealed the extent of US intelligence agencies' cyber spying and hacking operations. Symantec's Liam O'Murchu who was among the first to unravel Stuxnet says it is "by far the most complex piece of code that we've looked at — in a completely different league from anything we’d ever seen before." It is almost certain that the code is being reverse-engineered and repurposed as their weapon by cyber warriors in many countries around the world.
In 2013, a group known as "Shadow Brokers" leaked NSA's sophisticated cyberweapons that have exposed major vulnerabilities in Cisco routers, Microsoft Windows, and Linux mail servers. Soona after the Shadow Brokers leak, North Korea is believed to have developed and used WannaCry ransomware. It encrypts files on the target PC's hard drive, making them inaccessible, then demands a ransom payment in bitcoin to decrypt them.
American agencies have launched successful cyber campaigns against adversaries like Iran and North Korea in recent years, according to multiple credible reports. These cyber attacks have caused physical destruction of thousands of Iranian nuclear centrifuges and disrupted North Korean missiles on launchpads or shortly after takeoff. Some of the code and developer tools used in the attacks have leaked out. These leaks are enabling other nations to learn and develop their own offensive cyber weapons. The United States and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of using social media apps like Facebook and Twitter to cause and deepen divisions during the US presidential elections and the UK's Brexit referendum in 2016. Similar warfare techniques, described by the US RAND Corporation as New Generation or Hybrid Warfare, are probably being deployed by other nations as well. It refers to the use of a broad range of subversive instruments, many of which are nonmilitary, to further a country's national interests. It wouldn't be far-fetched to think that India and Pakistan are learning from New Generation Warfare techniques developed and deployed by technologically advanced nations.
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