Israel’s Unit 8200 may be small but pushes others around like the diminutive younger brother of a giant- picking fights it would not pick without the security of knowing that the giant has it’s back. Sources in the US government have pointed to Israeli aggression as an unnecessary nuisance that compromises U.S. safety – particularly their aggressive Military Intelligence unit known simply as Unit 8200. What you may not know about the brash, bold and aggressive Unit 8200 is that they are equally responsible for creating tools of destruction as they are for the cool new outfit your new style app picked out for you.
Unit 8200 was able to repurpose the algorithms used to track and prevent suicide bombings to produce Stylit – an app for choosing clothes, and Waze the popular ‘alternative route’ driving app. However Unit 8200 is hardly just a bunch of stylish Israelis helping you be a snappy dresser or get to work on time – they may be responsible for dragging America into global conflict.
In 2010 a cyber security firm known as Symantec discovered a virus that had almost 15,000 lines of code, no bugs and utilized four zero day exploits. The programming time and skill including undiscovered zero day exploits in the virus were appraised by Symantec to be worth over a million USD. A “million dollar virus” copying and spreading all over the world is a far cry from the usual bug laden viruses from the usual suspects of Chinese or Russian teenagers.
Symantec dubbed the super virus “STUXNET” based on the combination of two words STUB and XNET, but is referred to as Operation Olympic Games amongst the US Cyber Command & NSA. Stuxnet was never intended to become the global phenomenon that it did, but largely due to Unit 8200’s aggressive short-sighted alterations it spread wider and further than ever initially intended.
U.S. Cyber Command is the US Government’s digital warfare department and is the aggressive arm of the NSA, and happens to operate out of the same building as the NSA. U.S. Cyber Command has specific targets and goals that could be compromised, unlike the NSA whose job is to vacuum and index all information. The public may not very familiar with Cyber Command for a variety of reasons: nearly all of it’s activities are top secret, they have no practical oversight for their operations and there currently is no pressing enough reason for the public to know about them.
Most rational citizens understand the need for classified information for ongoing military operations, at least to a limit. U.S. Cyber Command does not need to have their missions and operations blown due to public oversight. From a military perspective, the U.S. Cyber Command operates most best out of the public eye as they originally intended Stuxnet to be.
Stuxnet was extremely pervasive, infecting millions of PCs – voraciously attacking any system it encountered yet seemingly doing nothing to the untrained eye. Upon closer inspection, Symantec discovered Stuxnet had an objective but its target was oddly specific: PLC’s or programmable logic controllers. Why would a “million dollar virus” spread across dozens of countries and millions of users go to all that trouble just to affect a PLC?
Firstly The PLC it was after happened to control a set of uranium-enriching centrifuges in the Iranian Nuclear Facility in Natanz, Iran. The NSA was reportedly furious that Israel’s unit 8200 inadvertently modified their code, making it far wider reaching (and exposable) than ever intended. Unit 8200 took the meticulously and expensively calculated NSA produced Olympic Games and attached a blowtorch and air raid siren to it, ensuring it hit it’s target with no subtlety or secrecy at all.
Much to the chagrin of the NSA and U.S. Cyber command, the Israeli government’s NSA equivalent Unit 8200 altered the NSA written program Stuxnet to be the wide-reaching public phenomenon it became. Embedded within the massive virus were version numbers, earliest versions of the virus were version .5, and the latest most aggressive outreaching version was 1.1. The U.S. Cyber Command started out with Olympic Games a precisely targeted cyber weapon, but by the time unit 8200 got done with it it became the overly destructive phenomenon known as Stuxnet.
The only difference between Stuxnet and the countless other super viruses deployed by U.S. Cyber Command is that Stuxnet was discovered – largely due to unit 8200’s alterations. While the sophistication of the cyber attack shocked the public, U.S. Cyber Command is reportedly responsible for hundreds if not thousands of similar “hacks of aggression” ie: Nitro Zeus, fortunately for the sake of world peace they are better at keeping secrets than Israel’s Unit 8200.