Arquivo da categoria ‘Tudo’

NYTimes: How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death

Publicado: abril 30, 2012 por Anita Sirc em Tudo

Pam Sakuda was 55 when she found out she was dying. Shortly after having a tumor removed from her colon, she heard the doctor’s dreaded words: Stage 4; metastatic. Sakuda was given 6 to 14 months to live. Determined to slow her disease’s insidious course, she ran several miles every day, even during her grueling treatment regimens. By nature upbeat, articulate and dignified, Sakuda — who died in November 2006, outlasting everyone’s expectations by living for four years — was alarmed when anxiety and depression came to claim her after she passed the 14-month mark, her days darkening as she grew closer to her biological demise. Norbert Litzinger, Sakuda’s husband, explained it this way: “When you pass your own death sentence by, you start to wonder: When? When? It got to the point where we couldn’t make even the most mundane plans, because we didn’t know if Pam would still be alive at that time — a concert, dinner with friends; would she still be here for that?” When came to claim the couple’s life completely, their anxiety building as they waited for the final day.

As her fears intensified, Sakuda learned of a study being conducted by Charles Grob, a psychiatrist and researcher at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center who was administering psilocybin — an active component of magic mushrooms — to end-stage cancer patients to see if it could reduce their fear of death. Twenty-two months before she died, Sakuda became one of Grob’s 12 subjects. When the research was completed in 2008 — (and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry last year) — the results showed that administering psilocybin to terminally ill subjects could be done safely while reducing the subjects’ anxiety and depression about their impending deaths.

Grob’s interest in the power of psychedelics to mitigate mortality’s sting is not just the obsession of one lone researcher. Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont Mass., a psychiatric training hospital for Harvard Medical School, used MDMA — also known as ecstasy — in an effort to ease end-of-life anxieties in two patients with Stage 4 cancer. And there are two ongoing studies using psilocybin with terminal patients, one at New York University’s medical school, led by Stephen Ross, and another at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where Roland Griffiths has administered psilocybin to 22 cancer patients and is aiming for a sample size of 44. “This research is in its very early stages,” Grob told me earlier this month, “but we’re getting consistently good results.”

Grob and his colleagues are part of a resurgence of scientific interest in the healing power of psychedelics. Michael Mithoefer, for instance, has shown that MDMA is an effective treatment for severe P.T.S.D. Halpern has examined case studies of people with cluster headaches who took LSD and reported their symptoms greatly diminished. And psychedelics have been recently examined as treatment for alcoholism and other addictions.

Despite the promise of these investigations, Grob and other end-of-life researchers are careful about the image they cultivate, distancing themselves as much as possible from the 1960s, when psychedelics were embraced by many and used in a host of controversial studies, most famously the psilocybin project run by Timothy Leary. Grob described the rampant drug use that characterized the ’60s as “out of control” and said of his and others’ current research, “We are trying to stay under the radar. We want to be anti-Leary.” Halpern agreed. “We are serious sober scientists.”

Apenas uma Hipótese

Publicado: abril 15, 2012 por Anita Sirc em Tudo

Eu sempre te encontro neste lugar hipotético

Pretensamente inexistente ou existente –

a pretensão pode pender para os dois lados –

em que conversamos a respeito de coisas que realmente existem

se é que elas existem, realmente.

 

E quando de lá retorno, do lugar hipotético,

Pretensamente inexistente – ou existente

fica um sorriso teu por detrás da minha boca.

E no verso dos meus olhos, fica o desenho da tua face.

Na minha garganta, as palavras que você disse, 

e nos meus pulmões o seu ar já respirado.

Todo o meu implícito é você, e por isso

Eu em mim já não caibo.

 

Nos textos que leio, há sempre um sujeito oculto,

e um verbo mais do que particípio.

Não há mais gerúndio, entende? há somente o presente tenso.

 

Se minhas palavras contassem,

se meu verbo adiantasse ser conjugado, eu diria que a esta realidade

eu preferiria outra hipótese.

Mas pela lógica do infinitivo, há de ser o que é real

E o hipotético, por ser hipotético, é apenas assim:

Ele não vem à tona.

 

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Tzimtzum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Part of a series on
Kabbalah
10 Sephirot
Prior to Creation, there was only the infinite Or Ein Sof filling all existence. When it arose in G-d’s Will to create worlds and emanate the emanated…He contracted (in Hebrew “tzimtzum”) Himself in the point at the center, in the very center of His light. He restricted that light, distancing it to the sides surrounding the central point, so that there remained a void, a hollow empty space, away from the central point… After this tzimtzum… He drew down from the Or Ein Sof a single straight line [of light] from His light surrounding [the void] from above to below [into the void], and it chained down descending into that void…. In the space of that void He emanated, created, formed and made all the worlds. (Etz Chaim, Arizal, Heichal A”K, anaf 2)
[1]]

Tzimtzum (Hebrew צמצום ṣimṣūm “contraction” or “constriction”) is a term used in the Lurianic Kabbalah teaching of Isaac Luria, explaining his concept that God began the process of creation by “contracting” his infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist. This contraction, forming an “empty space” (חלל הפנוי) in which creation could begin, is known as the Tzimtzum.

Because the Tzimtzum results in the conceptual “space” in which the physical universe and free will can exist, God is often referred to as “Ha-Makom” (המקום lit. “the place”, “the omnipresent”) in Rabbinic literature. Relatedly, olam—the Hebrew word for “world” or universe—is derived from the root word עלם meaning “concealment”. This etymology is complementary with the concept of Tzimtzum, in that thephysical universe conceals the spiritual nature of creation.

Contents

In Lurianic thought

Main article: Lurianic Kabbalah

Isaac Luria introduced three central themes into kabbalistic thought, Tzimtzum, Shevirat HaKelim (the shattering of the vessels), and Tikkun (repair). These three are a group of interrelated, and continuing, processes. Tzimzum describes the first step in the process by which God began the process of creation by withdrawing his own essence from an area, creating an area in which creation could begin. Shevirat HaKelim describes how, after the Tzimtzum, God created the vessels (HaKelim) in the empty space, and how when God began to pour his Light into the vessels they were not strong enough to hold the power of God’s Light and shattered (Shevirat). The third step, Tikkun, is the process of gathering together, and raising, the sparks of God’s Light that were carried down with the shards of the shattered vessels.[2]

Since Tzimtzum is connected to the concept of exile, and Tikkun is connected to the need to repair the problems of the world of human existence, Luria unites the cosmology of Kabbalah with the practice of Jewish ethics, and makes ethics and traditional Jewish religious observance the means by which God allows humans to complete and perfect the material world through living the precepts of a traditional Jewish life.[3]

Inherent paradox

A commonly held [4] understanding in Kabbalah is that the concept of Tzimtzum contains a built-in paradox, requiring that God be simultaneously transcendent and immanent.

  • On the one hand, if the “Infinite” did not restrict itself, then nothing could exist—everything would be overwhelmed by God’s totality. Thus existence requires God’s transcendence, as above.
  • On the other hand, God continuously maintains the existence of, and is thus not absent from, the created universe. “The Divine life-force which brings all creatures into existence must constantly be present within them… were this life-force to forsake any created being for even one brief moment, it would revert to a state of utter nothingness, as before the creation…” [5]. This understanding is supported by various biblical teachings: “You have made the heaven… the earth and all that is on it… and You give life to them all” (Nehemiah 9:6); “All the earth is filled with God’s Glory” (Numbers 14:21); “God’s Glory fills the world” (Isaiah 6:3). Creation therefore requires God’s immanence.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslav discusses this inherent paradox as follows:

Only in the future will it be possible to understand the Tzimtzum that brought the ‘Empty Space’ into being, for we have to say of it two contradictory things… [1] the Empty Space came about through the Tzimtzum, where, as it were, He ‘limited’ His Godliness and contracted it from there, and it is as though in that place there is no Godliness… [2] the absolute truth is that Godliness must nevertheless be present there, for certainly nothing can exist without His giving it life. (Likkutei Moharan I, 64:1)

This paradox is strengthened by reference to the closely related doctrine of divine simplicity, which holds that God is absolutely simple, containing no element of form or structure whatsoever. This gives rise to two difficulties. Firstly, according to this doctrine, it is impossible for God to shrink or expand (physically or metaphorically)—an obvious contradiction to the above. Secondly, according to this doctrine, if God’s creative will is present, then He must be present in total—whereas the Tzimtzum, on the other hand, results in, and requires, a “partial Presence” as above.

The paradox has an additional aspect, in that the Tzimtzum results in a perception of the world being imperfect despite God’s omniperfect Presence being everywhere. As a result, some Kabbalists saw the Tzimtzum as a cosmic illusion.

Chabad view

In Chabad Hassidism, on the other hand, the concept of Tzimtzum is understood as not meant to be interpreted literally, but rather to refer to the manner in which God impresses His presence upon the consciousness of finite reality [2]: thus tzimtzum is not only seen as being a real process but is also seen as a doctrine that every person is able, and indeed required, to understand and meditate upon.

In the Chabad view, the function of the Tzimtzum was “to conceal from created beings the activating force within them, enabling them to exist as tangible entities, instead of being utterly nullified within their source” [6]. The tzimtzum produced the required “vacated space” (chalal panui חלל פנוי, chalal חלל), devoid of direct awareness of God’s presence.

Here Chassidut sheds light on the concept of Tzimtzum via the analogy of a person and his speech. (The source of this analogy is essentially Genesis Chapter 1, where God “spoke” to create heaven and earth.):

In order to communicate, a person must put aside all that he knows, all his experiences, and all that he is, and say only one thing (“the contraction”). This is especially the case when we speak of an educator, whose level of mind and understanding is almost completely removed and incomparable to his student, that has to “find” an idea that is simple enough to convey to the student. However, when he goes through this process and now is choosing to express himself through this particular utterance, he has not in any way lost or forgotten all the knowledge of who he really is (“thus the contraction is not a literal contraction”).

(Furthermore, the one who hears his words also has the full revelation of who that person is when he hears those words, though he may not realize it. If the listener understood the language and was sensitive enough, he would be able to pull out from those words everything there is to know about the person.)

So too, God chose to express Himself through this world with all of its limitations. However, this does not mean, as pantheism posits, that God is limited to this particular form, or that God has “forgotten” all He can do. He still “remembers what He really is”, meaning that He remains always in His infinite essence, but is choosing to reveal only this particular aspect of Himself. The act of Tzimtzum is thus how God “puts aside” His infinite light, and allows for an “empty space”, void of any indication of the Divine Presence. He then can reveal a limited finite aspect of his light (namely our imperfect, finite reality).

(As clarified before, if man were spiritually sensitive enough, we would be able to see how God is truly giving us a full revelation of His infinite self through the medium of this world. To a listener who does not understand the language being spoken, the letters are “empty” of any revelation of the person. In the analogue this means that the world looks to us to be “empty” of Godly revelation. Kaballah and Chassidus, however, teaches one how to meditate in order to be able to understand God’s “language” so that one can see the Godly revelation in every aspect of creation.)

Therefore, no paradox exists. The finite Godly light that is immanent within the universe, constantly creating and vivifying it, is only a “faint glimmer of a glimmer of a glimmer” (TanyaIggeret HaKodesh, Chapter 20) of God’s infinite, transcendent light that has been completely concealed by tzimtzum. (See also Dovber SchneuriNer Mitzva Vetorah OrKehot Publication SocietyISBN 0-8266-5496-7.)

Vilna Gaon’s view

The Gaon held that tzimtzum was not literal, however, the “upper unity”, the fact that the universe is only illusory, and that tzimtzum was only figurative, was not perceptible, or even really understandable, to those not fully initiated in the mysteries of Kabbalah.[7][8]

The Leshem articulates this view clearly (and claims that not only is it the opinion of the Vilna Gaon, but also is the straightforward and simple reading of Luria and is the only true understanding).

He writes

I have also seen some very strange things in the words of some contemporary kabbalists who explain things deeply. They say that all of existence is only an illusion and appearance, and does not truly exist. This is to say that the ein sof didn’t change at all in itself and its necessary true existence and it is now still exactly the same as it was before creation, and there is no space empty of Him, as is known (see Nefesh Ha-Chaim Shaar 3). Therefore they said that in truth there is no reality to existence at all, and all the worlds are only an illusion and appearance, just as it says in the verse “in the hands of the prophets I will appear” (Hoshea 12: 11). They said that the world and humanity have no real existence, and their entire reality is only an appearance. We perceive ourselves as if we are in a world, and we perceive ourselves with our senses, and we perceive the world with our senses. It turns out [according to this opinion] that all of existence of humanity and the world is only a perception and not in true reality, for it is impossible for anything to exist in true reality, since He fills all the worlds…. How strange and bitter is it to say such a thing. Woe to us from such an opinion. They don’t think and they don’t see that with such opinions they are destroying the truth of the entire Torah….[9]

However, the Gaon and the Leshem held that tzimtzum only took place in God’s Will (Ratzon), but that it is impossible to say anything at all about God Himself (Atzmut). Thus, they did not actually believe in a literal Tzimtzum in God’s Essence.[citation needed] Luria’s Etz Chaim itself, however, in the First Shaar, is ambivalent: in one place it speaks of a literal tzimtzum in God’s Essence and Self, then it changes a few lines later to a tzimtzum in the Divine Light (an emanated, hence created and not part of God’s Self, energy).[citation needed]

Application in clinical psychology

An Israeli professor, Mordechai Rotenberg, believes the KabbalisticHasidic tzimtzum paradigm has significant implications for clinical therapy. According to this paradigm, God’s “self-contraction” to vacate space for the world serves as a model for human behavior and interaction. The tzimtzum model promotes a unique community-centric approach which contrasts starkly with the language of Western psychology.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Rabbi Moshe Miller, The Great Constriction, kabbalaonline.org.
  2. ^ James David Dunn, Windows of the Soul, p.21-24
  3. ^ J.H. Laenen, Jewish Mysticism, p.168-169
  4. ^ see for example Aryeh Kaplan, “Paradoxes” (in “The Aryeh Kaplan Reader”, Artscroll 1983. ISBN 0-89906-174-5)
  5. ^ Yosef Wineberg, Commentary on TanyaShaar Hayichud veHaEmunah [1]
  6. ^ TanyaShaar Hayichud veHaEmunahch.4
  7. ^ E. J. Schochet, The Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna
  8. ^ Allan Nadler, The Faith of the Mithnagdim
  9. ^ Leshem Sh-vo ve-Achlama Sefer Ha-Deah drush olam hatohu chelek 1, drush 5, siman 7, section 8 (p. 57b)
  10. ^ Rotenberg Center for Jewish Psychology

[edit]Bibliography

External links

Da Insônia

Publicado: abril 4, 2012 por Anita Sirc em Tudo
Tags:,
Ando achando que vou morrer. Não, na verdade a sensação é mais urgente, ando em séria eminência de morte. Desperto à noite já buscando o ar que falta, “eu vou morrer”, penso – e a grande ironia é
que, por mais que eu me acalme, fato é que eu realmente vou morrer. Pode não ser hoje, mas será. E você também vai.

Já vai alta madrugada e eu ainda ensaiando o meu epitáfio. O que pode ser dito sobre uma fêmea sul americana, habitante do início do século XXI?

Enumero na mente as minhas ras(r)as contribuições à humanidade. Não foram muitas, mas de qualquer maneira, o processo me confunde. Devo contar todos os dias que acordei de manhã e compareci ao trabalho?
Devo contar todas as noites em que tolerei pessoas que não me interessavam? Devo me gabar de um feito, uma caridade? Contabilizo a minha contribuição à previdência social? Posso incluir as tardes em

que simplesmente me sentei e agradeci o por do sol?

Tento então avaliar as minhas qualidades. Baseio então o meu epitáfio no que sou, e não no que quero mostrar que sou. Apesar da alta miopia, sempre vi muito bem. Cientificamente provado está que enxergo diferente. Poeticamente comprovado está que em regra, vejo além. Poderia ser então assim o meu epitáfio: “Foi-se, mas via”.

Considero então as coisas que gosto, seguindo Borges: o homem que se propõe a tarefa de esboçar o mundo traça, num longo labirinto, a imagem de seu rosto.  A resposta de quem eu sou deve estar no que amo. Procuro então os meus amores incondicionais. Já sem a ajuda da mente enfraquecida pelo horário avançado,vasculho o meu computador e redescubro o meu conto preferido, companheiro de tantas cabeceiras: “O Espelho”, de Guimarães Rosa. “Desde aí, comecei a procurar-me — ao eu por detrás de mim — à tona dos espelhos, em sua lisa, funda lâmina, em seu lume frio.” Penso quantas vezes chorei ao ler: “Por aí, perdoe-me o detalhe, eu já amava— já aprendendo, isto seja, a conformidade e a alegria.”

E é daí, do que amo, que surge o consolo: a conformidade.  Pessoas morrem, e como pessoa, você vai morrer. Conforme-se, não há o que entender. O aprendizado da conformidade e da alegria que só surge depois do detalhe, o amor. Pessoas morrem, é fato, mas também amam.

Talvez esse devesse ser o meu epitáfio: “foi-se uma pessoa que, como outras pessoas, via e amava”. O sol já vai alto, e quase solto o computador no chão, de tanto sono.

 

ZEITGEIST: MOVING FORWARD | OFFICIAL RELEASE | 2011

Publicado: janeiro 26, 2011 por Yogi em Tudo

Em breve, legendas em português.

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Brazil – A lista secreta de compras do império

Publicado: dezembro 13, 2010 por Yogi em Tudo

Natalia Viana, 5 de dezembro de 2010, 21.00 GMT

Se os Estados unidos fizessem uma lista de compras – apenas o essencial para a manutenção do seu poderio estratégico, como ela seria?

A resposta está em um longo documento publicado na noite de domingo pelo site WikiLeaks.

O documento mostra que o Departamento de Estado americano pediu que diplomatas em todo o mundo fizessem uma lista da infraestrutura e recursos imprescindíveis aos EUA nos países onde trabalham.

O telegrama, enviado em 18 de fereveiro de 2009, mostra uma primeira versão do que seria chamado de Iniciativa de Dependência Crítica de Infraestrutura estrangeira. Detalha todos os locais considerados etsratégicos para a sobrevivência dos EUA – de cabos de telefonia a minas. Fazem parte da lista por exemplo o gasoduto Nadyn, na Rússia, descrito como “o gasoduto mais importante do mundo”. A empresa MacTaggart Scott, na Escócia, é relatada como “crítica” para os submarinos nucleares”.

No Brasil, a principal preocupação dos EUA é com cabos de trasnsmissão submarinos em Fortaleza (Americas II e GlobeNet), e com as minas gerenciadas pela britânica Rio Tinto Company em Minas Gerais e Rio de Janeiro – elas fornecem minério de ferro – e com a Mina Catalão I, em Goiás (explorada pela Anglo American), que fornece nióbio, usado orincipalmente em ligas de aço. Até a Venezuela tem infraestrutura críitca para os EUA: são os cabos submarinos Americas-II, que passa por Camuri e GlobeNet, que passa por Punta Gorda, Catia La Mar, e Manonga.

O Departamento de Estado – já sob a administração de Hillary Clinton – pediu que os funcionários das embaixadas adicionassem quaisquer infraestruturas que considerassem essenciais, assim como “qualquer informação que mostre que a infraestrutura ou recursos críticos seja um alvo de fato ou esteja especialmente vulnerável por conta de circunstâncias naturais”. Mais do que que isso. Como mostra o telegrama, a coisa toda teria que ser feita em segredo: “não estamos pedindo que as embaixadas consultem os governos a respeito desse pedido”. Mais uma prova de que as embaixadas americanas no mundo fazem principalmente trabalho de inteligência.

Outro telegrama, enviado pela embaixada dos EUA no Qatar no dia 26 de março de 2009, revela também como o governo americano se importa com a segurança de cada uma dessas instalações. Por exemplo, os EUA procuram oferecer apoio financeiro para esses países, ou oferecer tecnologia e serviços americanos na proteção desses locais.

O documento é classificado como secreto, a mais forte classificação dentre os documentos obtidos pelo WikiLeaks – que não contém documentos “top secret”. Mesmo assim, cerca de 1,5 milhão de funcionários americanos tinha acesso a ele.

Stuxnet

Publicado: novembro 29, 2010 por Yogi em Capital, International, Politics, Science, Tech, Tudo
Tags:, , , , , ,
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stuxnet is a Windows-specific computer worm first discovered in June 2010 by VirusBlokAda, a security firm based in Belarus. It is the first discovered worm that spies on and reprograms industrial systems,[1] the first to include a programmable logic controller (PLC) rootkit,[2] and the first to target critical industrial infrastructure.[3] It was specifically written to attack Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems used to control and monitor industrial processes.[4] Stuxnet includes the capability to reprogram the PLCs and hide its changes.[5]

The worm’s probable target has been said to have been high value infrastructures in Iran using Siemens control systems.[6][7] According to news reports the infestation by this worm might have damaged Iran’snuclear facilities in Natanz[8][9] and eventually delayed the start up of Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.[10] Siemens has stated, however, that the worm has not in fact caused any damage.[11]

Russian digital security company Kaspersky Labs released a statement that described Stuxnet as “a working and fearsome prototype of a cyber-weapon that will lead to the creation of a new arms race in the world.” Kevin Hogan, Senior Director of Security Response at Symantec, noted that 60% of the infected computers worldwide were in Iran, suggesting its industrial plants were the target.[12] Kaspersky Labs concluded that the attacks could only have been conducted “with nation-state support”, making Iran the first target of real cyberwarfare.[13][14][15]

Contents

 [hide]

[edit]History

The worm was first reported by the security company VirusBlokAda in mid-June 2010, and roots of it have been traced back to June 2009.[5] It contains a component with a build time stamp from 3 February 2010.[16]

In the United Kingdom on 25 November 2010, Sky News announced that it had received information that the Stuxnet worm, or a variation of the virus, had been traded on the black market. Sky News stated that the virus had possibly been traded to a criminal gang or terrorist group and that such a virus was a “tier 1” threat to national security.[17]

[edit]Affected countries

A study of the spread of Stuxnet by Symantec showed that the main affected countries as of August 6, 2010 were:[18]

Country Infected computers
China 6,000,000 (unconfirmed)[19] (October 1)
Iran 62,867
Indonesia 13,336
India 6,552
United States 2,913
Australia 2,436
United Kingdom 1,038
Malaysia 1,013
Pakistan 993
Finland 7[20]
Germany 5[21] (September)

[edit]Operation

Stuxnet attacks Windows systems using four zero-day attacks (plus the CPLINK vulnerability and a vulnerability used by the Conficker worm) and targets systems using Siemens‘ WinCC/PCS 7 SCADA software. It is initially spread using infected USB flash drives and then uses other exploits to infect other WinCC computers in the network. Once inside the system it uses the default passwords to command the software.[5]Siemens advises immediately upgrading password access codes.”[22]

Stuxnet requires specific variable-frequency drives (frequency converter drives) on the system. It only attacks systems with variable-frequency drives from two specific vendors: Vacon based in Finland and Fararo Payabased in Iran.[23] It monitors the frequency and only attacks systems that run between 807Hz and 1210Hz which is very high and only used in particular industrial applications. Stuxnet then modifies the output frequency for a short interval of time to 1410Hz and then to 2Hz and then to 1064Hz and thus affects the operation of the connected motors.[24]

The complexity of the software is very unusual for malware. The attack requires knowledge of industrial processes and an interest in attacking industrial infrastructure.[1][5] The number of used zero-day Windows exploits is also unusual, as zero-day Windows exploits are valued, and crackers do not normally waste the use of four different ones in the same worm.[6] Stuxnet is unusually large at half a megabyte in size,[25]and written in different programming languages (including C and C++) which is also irregular for malware.[1][5] It is digitally signed with two authentic certificates which were stolen[25] from two certification authorities (JMicron and Realtek) which helped it remain undetected for a relatively long period of time.[26] It also has the capability to upgrade via peer to peer, allowing it to be updated after the initial command and control server was disabled.[25][27] These capabilities would have required a team of people to program, as well as check that the malware would not crash the PLCs. Eric Byres, who has years of experience maintaining and troubleshooting Siemens systems, told Wired that writing the code would have taken many man-months, if not years.[25]

A Siemens spokesperson said that the worm was found on 15 systems with five of the infected systems being process manufacturing plants in Germany. Siemens claims that no active infections have been found and there were no reports of damages caused by the worm.[21] Jeffrey Carr raised the possibility that the Stuxnet took India’s INSAT-4B Satellite out of action, making it effectively dead.[28] However, ISRO has provisionally ruled out the possibility of Stuxnet attack, and awaits further details from Carr’s presentation on the topic.[29]

[edit]Removal

Siemens has released a detection and removal tool for Stuxnet. Siemens recommends contacting customer support if an infection is detected and advises installing the Microsoft patch for vulnerabilities and prohibiting the use of third-party USB flash drives.[30]

The worm’s ability to reprogram external programmable logic controllers (PLCs) may complicate the removal procedure. Symantec’s Liam O’Murchu warns that fixing Windows systems may not completely solve the infection; a thorough audit of PLCs is recommended. In addition, it has been speculated that incorrect removal of the worm could cause a significant amount of damage.[31]

[edit]Prevention

Prevention of control system security incidents,[32] such as from viral infections like Stuxnet, is a topic that is being addressed in both the public and the private sector. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cyber Security Division’s operates the Control System Security Program (CSSP).[33] The program operates a specialized Computer Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), conducts a biannual conference (ICSJWG), provides training, publishes recommended practices, and provides a self-assessment tool. Several industry organizations[34][35] and professional societies[36][37] have published standards and best practice guidelines providing direction and guidance for control system end-users on how to establish a Control System Security management program. The basic premise that all of these documents share is that prevention requires a multi-layered approach, often referred to as “defense-in-depth”. The layers include policies & procedures, awareness & training, network segmentation, access control measures, physical security measures, system hardening, e.g., patch management, and system monitoring e.g., anti-virus, IDS, etc. The standards and best practices also all recommend starting with a risk analysis and a control system security assessment.[38] The purpose is to assess the current level of risk and the size of the gap between that risk and what is tolerable. The other purpose of an assessment is to identify the vulnerabilities and develop a prioritized program to eliminate or minimize them.

In response to these concerns, Cyber security standards and certifications programs such as ISA 99 and SASecure have been developed to evaluate and certify the security of industrial automation products.

Automation, SCADA and Control System developers often use off-the-shelf equipment, software and protocols, integrating and configuring these in different ways for a variety of applications. This ‘common’ approach can make it easier for malware to bring down some vulnerable systems. However, proprietary Automation, SCADA and Control System developers, eg. Infinitronix and others, are able to provide a completely ‘bespoke’ solution, using new protocols and HW/SW/FW solutions yet unknown to developers of malware.

[edit]Speculations about the target and origin

Alan Bentley of security firm Lumension has said that Stuxnet is “the most refined piece of malware ever discovered … mischief or financial reward wasn’t its purpose, it was aimed right at the heart of a critical infrastructure”. Symantec estimates that the group developing Stuxnet would have been well-funded, consisting of five to ten people, and would have taken six months to prepare.[39] The Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times all reported that experts studying Stuxnet considered that the complexity of the code indicates that only a nation state would have the capabilities to produce it.[6][39][40]

Israel, perhaps through Unit 8200,[41] has been speculated to be the country behind Stuxnet in many of the media reports[39][42][43] and by experts such as Richard Falkenrath, former Senior Director for Policy and Plans within the Office of Homeland Security.[44] Some have also referred to several clues in the code such as a concealed reference to the word “MYRTUS”, believed to refer to the Myrtle tree, or Hadassah in Hebrew. Hadassah was the birth name of the former Jewish queen of Persia, Queen Esther.[45][46] However, it may be that the “MYRTUS” reference is simply a misinterpreted reference to SCADA components known as RTUs (Remote Terminal Units) and that this reference is actually “My RTUs” — a management feature of SCADA.[47] Also, the number 19790509 appears once in the code and might refer to the date “1979 May 09”, the day Habib Elghanian, a Persian Jew, was executed in Tehran.[48][49][50] According to the New York Times a former member of the United States intelligence community speculated that the attack may have been the work of Unit 8200.[51] Yossi Melman, who covers intelligence for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz and is at work on a book about Israeli intelligence, also suspected that Israel was involved. He noted that Meir Dagan, head of the national intelligence agency Mossad, had his term extended in 2009 because he was said to be involved in important projects. Additionally, in the past year Israeli estimates of when Iran will have a nuclear weapon had been extended to 2014. “They seem to know something, that they have more time than originally thought”, he added.[8]

Additionally, in 2009, a year before Stuxnet was discovered, Scott Borg of the United States Cyber-Consequences Unit had suggested that Israel might prefer to mount a cyber-attack rather than a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.[52] According to Borg this kind of attack could involve disrupting sensitive equipment such as centrifuges using malware introduced via infected memory sticks: “Since the autumn of 2002, I have regularly predicted that this sort of cyber-attack tool would eventually be developed … Israel certainly has the ability to create Stuxnet and there is little downside to such an attack, because it would be virtually impossible to prove who did it. So a tool like Stuxnet is Israel’s obvious weapon of choice.”[53] There has also been speculation on the involvement of NATO, the United States and other Western nations.[54] It has been reported that the United States, under one of its most secret programs, initiated by the Bush administration and accelerated by the Obama administration, has sought to destroy Iran’s nuclear program by novel methods such as undermining Iranian computer systems.[55] However, solid evidence pointing to Western (and specifically American) involvement has been scarce.

Though Israel has not publicly commented on the Stuxnet attack, it has since confirmed that cyberwarfare is now among the pillars of its defense doctrine, with a military intelligence unit set up to pursue both defensive and offensive options.[56][57]

Symantec claims that the majority of infected systems were in Iran (about 60%),[58] which has led to speculation that it may have been deliberately targeting “high-value infrastructure” in Iran[6] including either theBushehr Nuclear Power Plant or the Natanz nuclear facility.[25] Ralph Langner, a German cyber-security researcher, called the malware “a one-shot weapon” and said that the intended target was probably hit,[59]although he admitted this was speculation.[25]

There are reports that Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at the Natanz facility was the target of Stuxnet and the site sustained damage because of it causing a sudden 15% reduction in its production capabilities. There was also a previous report by wikileaks disclosing a “serious nuclear accident” at the site in 2009.[9][43][60][61][62][63] According to statistics published by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) the number of enriched centrifuges operational in Iran mysteriously declined from about 4,700 to about 3,900 beginning around the time the nuclear incident WikiLeaks mentioned would have occurred.[64] On November 23 it was announced that due to a series of major technical problems in Natanz Iran had to temporarily cease its uranium production altogether.[65] [66]

The name is derived from some keywords discovered in the software.[53] The whole Stuxnet code has not yet been decrypted, but among its peculiar capabilities is a fingerprinting technology which allows it to precisely identify the systems it infects. It appears to be looking for a particular system to destroy at a specific time and place. Once it has infected a system it performs a check every 5 seconds to determine if its parameters for launching an attack are met. The worm appears programmed to cause a catastrophic physical failure; early speculation on methods had included overriding turbine RPM limits, shutting down lubrication or cooling systems, or sabotaging the high-speed spinning process of centrifuge arrays at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility;[59][67] in November 2010, according to The New York Times, experts at Symantec found that the worm speeds up rotation rates for the accelerators to the point where they break.[68] The complex code of Stuxnet looks for a very particular type of system and controller, namely frequency converters made by the Iranian company Fararo Paya and the Finnish company Vacon.[68][69][70]

[edit]Iranian reaction

The Associated Press reported that the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency released a statement on 24 September 2010 stating that experts from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran met in the previous week to discuss how Stuxnet could be removed from their systems.[4] Western intelligence agencies have been attempting to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program for some time, according to analysts.[71][72]

The head of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant told Reuters that only the personal computers of staff at the plant had been infected by Stuxnet and the state-run newspaper Iran Daily quoted Reza Taghipour, Iran’s telecommunications minister, as saying that it had not caused “serious damage to government systems”.[40] Director of Information Technology Council at the Iranian Ministry of Industries and Mines, Mahmud Liaii has said that: “An electronic war has been launched against Iran… This computer worm is designed to transfer data about production lines from our industrial plants to locations outside Iran.”[73]

It is believed that infection had originated from Russian laptops belonging to Russian contractors at the site of Bushehr power plant and spreading from there with the aim of targeting the power plant control systems.[74][75][76] In response to the infection, Iran has assembled a team to combat it. With more than 30,000 IP addresses affected in Iran, an official has said that the infection is fast spreading in Iran and the problem has been compounded by the ability of Stuxnet to mutate. Iran has set up its own systems to clean up infections and has advised against using the Siemens SCADA antivirus since it is suspected that the antivirus is actually embedded with codes which update Stuxnet instead of eradicating it.[77][78][79][80]

According to Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran’s government Information Technology Company, “The attack is still ongoing and new versions of this virus are spreading.” He reports that his company had begun the cleanup process at Iran’s “sensitive centres and organizations.”[78] “We had anticipated that we could root out the virus within one to two months, but the virus is not stable, and since we started the cleanup process three new versions of it have been spreading,” he told the Islamic Republic News Agency.[80]

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