How does Stuxnet work?

Video gives basics on SCADA-attacking, civil infrastructure-destroying cyberweapon

If you've ever gotten stuck or hopelessly confused trying to explain Stuxnet or other global cyberthreats to the non-geeks in your life, there's a bit on Vimeo from the Aussie TV newser HungryBeast that might help.

The tone is a little too tense for the material and immediacy of the threat, but not to the point local TV news hits every night in the U.S. ("World-ending disaster? Or just the flu? Details at 11.")

It's not quite as cute or merchandisable as plush-doll versions of Ebola or the Black Death. It is approachable, however, and does give a good rundown of why Stuxnet's targets and methods are different from other viruses, and what the long-range impact might be.

It doesn't talk down to the audience, but does explain in simple terms, dynamically enough to keep civilians from falling asleep for the three minutes, 21 seconds the video runs.

It's a little simplistic for geeks of any variety, to the point of uselessness for those with any experience with malware.

If you need detail for yourself or your team, check out Symantec's more detailed breakdown, or the range of white papers with a LOT more detail on what Stuxnet is and how it works, from SCADA security software maker Tofino.

The HungryBeast video is more on the level of business-unit managers who don't get the point of anything more basic than freeware A/V or spam filters.

You could also try it on the kind of relative or family friend who traps you in a corner at least once at every gathering for an awkward conversation whose only point is to show they're willing to spend three minutes trying to understand what you do for a living, without caring much that you explain how email works three times a year even though they never remember asking the question, let alone anything you say.

Pull out your Android of iPhone and run the video. It will impress them, get you out of an awkward conversation, and, if nothing else, they'll like the nice images and pretty colors. And the Aussie accents. Geekspeak goes down better with a charming foreign accent.

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