Sons of Stuxnet

Hackers are learning new lessons from the most sophisticated virus code ever written

BY STEVEN CHERRY // WED, DECEMBER 14, 2011

Last year, we did a show about the Stuxnet worm that was one of the most listened to of the year. In fact, it’s one of the most listened-to shows of this year as well.

Last week, we did a show about cybersecurity with the FBI’s Cyber Division’s deputy assistant director, who said things seem to be getting both better and worse. He said,“The awareness of users of critical infrastructure and the designers of critical infrastructure is heightened… Unfortunately the awareness on the terrorist side has also increased.

Terrorist organizations, he went on to say, are focused on how to attack the West in nontraditional ways, not just through kinetic bombs but through the Internet, critical infrastructure, banking, and finance.

In other words, the echoes of Stuxnet are reverberating through our real world and cyberspace, and I thought we’d continue to explore them, but in a somewhat nontraditional way.

My guest today is Larry Constantine.

He’s a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management. He’s taught at the Wharton School of Business, the I.B.M. Systems Research Institute, the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and he’s currently a professor in the Mathematics and Engineering Department at the University of Madeira, Portugal. He’s also led a double life as family therapist and has been an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University, and has also taught Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut.

More to the point for our purposes today, he’s also an accomplished writer with three published novels to his name, or actually, to his pen name of Lior Samson. The third novel, published in 2010, just as the world was waking up to the complexity and sophistication of the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program, imagined a complex and sophisticated attack on critical infrastructure, specifically U.S. power plants.

He’s also the coauthor, with Ed Yourdon, of one of the most influential books in computer science, Structured Design.

This interview was recorded 13 December 2011.
Audio engineer: Francesco Ferorelli
Follow us on Twitter @TechwisePodcast

NOTE: Constantine’s fourth novel, The Rosen Singularity, was published just this week.
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