"60 Minutes" on March 4, 2012
Steve Kroft reports: Could the Stuxnet virus that sabotaged the Iranian nuclear program be used against the U.S. infrastructure or other high profile targets? A retired American general who was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency when Stuxnet would have been created calls the cyber weapon a "good idea," but warns it is out there now for others to exploit.
About two years ago, the all-important centrifuges at Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment facility at Natanz began failing at a suspicious rate. Iran eventually admitted that computer code created problems for their centrifuges, but downplayed any lasting damage. Computer security experts now agree that code was a sophisticated computer worm dubbed Stuxnet, and that it destroyed more than 1,000 centrifuges. Many believe the U.S., in conjunction with Israel, sabotaged the system. Retired General Mike Hayden, once head of the NSA and CIA, who was no longer in office when the attack occurred, denies knowing who was behind it, but said, "This was a good idea, alright? But I also admit this was a big idea, too. The rest of the world is looking at this and saying, 'Clearly, someone has legitimated this kind of activity as acceptable.'"
Not only that, says Hayden, but the weapon, unlike a conventional bomb that is obliterated on contact, remains intact. "So there are those out there who can take a look at this...and maybe even attempt to turn it to their own purposes," he tells Kroft.
In fact, says Sean McGurk, who once led the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to secure U.S. systems from cyberattack , "You can download the actual source code of Stuxnet now and you can repackage it...point it back to wherever it came from." McGurk worries terrorists or a rogue country could refashion it to attack U.S. infrastructure like the power grid or water treatment facilities, even nuclear power plants. He tells Kroft he would never have advised anyone to unleash such a weapon. "They opened the box. They demonstrated the capability...it's not something that can put back."
The creators of Stuxnet never intended their worm to be discovered says one of the people most responsible for deconstructing its code. Liam O Murchu, an operations manager for computer virus security company Symantec, thinks whoever launched it partially failed because the virus was discovered. "You don't want the code uncovered, you want it kept secret," says O Murchu. "You want it to just keep working, stay undercover, do its damage and disappear."
Creating such a cyberweapon, so sophisticated it could be hiding in any number of computers but only strikes the target it was intended to, probably cost many millions. Now, with the code out there, it can be replicated cheaply. "You just need a couple of millions," says Ralph Langner, an expert in industrial control systems who also was instrumental in analyzing Stuxnet. And it wouldn't take the resources of a government to find the right people he says; they are on the Internet. "If I would be tasked with assembling a cyberforce, yeah, I would know whom to approach. So that's not a real secret," says Langner.
Bob Simon reports: The child sex abuse crisis and cover-up in the Catholic Church of Ireland has taken a devastating toll on one of the most Catholic countries in the world. Some parishes that once saw 90 percent Sunday Mass attendance are down to 2 percent. A country that once produced so many priests that they were considered an important export now doesn't have enough for its own churches. And, despite the publication of the Murphy Commission's report, a scathing analysis of the abuse and cover-up, the scandal is not over, says Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, one of the highest ranking church officials to openly criticize the Catholic Church. The archbishop speaks about the effects of the scandal on Ireland.
When Martin became archbishop, he provided the Murphy Commission with 65,000 files his predecessor had refused to turn over. In his sermons, he confronted the Church head-on for the behavior that caused the scandal. Now the church is at a breaking point; now is not the time to forget he says. "There's a real danger today of people saying, 'The child abuse scandal is over. Let's bury it. Let's move on,'" he tells Simon. "It isn't over. Child protection and the protection of children is something that will go on...for the rest of our lives and into the future. Because the problems are there," says the archbishop.
Martin takes Simon on a tour of his old seminary in Dublin. "When I entered this building...there were 120 of us, and they were building a new extension. At the moment, I have 10 seminarians."
In the southwest of Ireland, Simon talks to the people of Allihies, who remember when the parish priest had more power than the mayor or the police chief. It was a special status that set the stage for the abuse and the cover-up. Says Monica Polly, a parish council member in the town, "They cover it up because the priests were supposed to be perfect. They had an image of what they should be and they kept to that image rather than the reality." She has grown pessimistic. "To be honest, I don't think we've seen it all yet."
Simon also talks to a priest, the Rev. Shane Crombie, who is optimistic about the future of the Church. Crombie uses the analogy of fire to describe the Church's troubles. He keeps a charred cross on the altar of his church, a remnant of the original building rebuilt after burning down 25 years ago. It's a reminder that the Catholic Church, too, can emerge from the flames that have engulfed it. "I think the fire that's burning in the church at the moment is... the fire of disappointment, the fire of absolute rejection...of cover-up," he tells Simon. "It is the people, it was the people that rallied together to rebuild this church. It will be the people who will rebuild the church that is on fire," says Crombie.
Morley Safer reports on kindergarten "redshirting," the practice of holding back children with late birthdays so they can be the oldest instead of the youngest in class is getting so popular that today nearly a quarter of the kids in some kindergarten classes are aged 6, not 5. Many say this rising trend gives children an advantage over their younger peers.
Megan Hoffecker's son Barrett was born in August, so he would have been just 5 starting kindergarten in September. She put him in a preschool instead and waited to enroll him in kindergarten the next year as a 6-year-old. "We wanted to give him that extra year of growth for both size for later on, as well as maturity for him," she tells Safer.
Hoffecker believes being one of the oldest in class is an advantage. "I would prefer he be...older...and become a leader in his environment, rather than younger and be more of a follower," says Hoffecker. It also gives young Barrett an advantage in sports, too. "That one year has made a huge difference for him," she says.
Many parents told 60 Minutes that there is often pressure to redshirt when a child has a late birthday. Holly Korbey resisted the urgings to hold back her boy, Holden. "Several parents said to me, 'Don't you want him to be competitive?' And I said 'He's 4. I don't even know if he likes sports.'" Korbey says Holden did just fine as one of the youngest kids in his kindergarten class. "He gets excellent grades...never had a behavioral problem...has lots of friends."
There is a best-selling book, "Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell, that's driving much of the redshirting says Korbey. Gladwell's book points out the "cumulative advantage" of an age benefit that builds momentum with each successive year. "You're slightly better positioned when you're 7 and that means you're slightly better positioned when you are 8, and so on," says the author. Gladwell cites research that says kids who are the oldest in their class do better in school and sports than their younger classmates.
But Samuel Meisels, president of Chicago's Erikson Institute, said redshirting can cut both ways. He cites research saying that older kids can sometimes develop behavioral problems because the work is too easy for them. "We see more dropouts among children who are held out. We see less achievement, despite the fact some research shows it one way...the research is split on this," Meisels tells Safer. "And there's another moral lesson...which I know most parents don't want to hear. And that is this is inequitable," says Meisels, referring to the fact many cannot afford to send their kids to a private preschool for the year they are held out.
Korbey offers this advice: "Have your babies in the wintertime...then you will get to avoid this issue completely!" she tells Safer.