Esther (Hebrew: אֶסְתֵּר, Modern Ester Tiberian ʼEstēr), born Hadassah, is the eponymous heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Bible she was a Jewish queen of the Persian king Ahasuerus (traditionally identified with Xerxes I). Her story is the basis for the celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition.
According to the Esther 2:7, Esther was originally named Hadassah. Hadassah means “myrtle” in Hebrew. It has been conjectured that the name Esther is derived from a reconstructed Median word astra meaning myrtle..
An alternative view is that Esther is derived from the theonym Ishtar. The Book of Daniel provides accounts of Jews in exile being assigned names relating to Babylonian gods and “Mordecai” is understood to mean servant of Marduk, a Babylonian god. “Esther” may have been a different Hebrew interpretation from the Proto-Semitic root “*?aθtar- ‘morning/evening star’”, which descended with the /th/ into the Ugaritic Athtiratu and Arabian Athtar.
The derivation must then have been secondary for the initial ayin to be confused with an aleph (both represented by vowels in Akkadian), and the second consonant descended as a /s/ (like in the Aramaic asthr “bright star”), rather than a /sh/ as in Hebrew and most commonly in Akkadian.
Wilson, who identified Ahasuerus with Xerxes I and Vashti with Amestris, suggested that both “Amestris” and “Esther” derived from Akkadian Ammi-Ishtar or Ummi-Ishtar . Hoschander alternatively suggested Ishtar-udda-sha (“Ishtar is her light”) as the origin with the possibility of -udda-sha being connected with the similarly sounding Hebrew name Hadassah. These names however remain unattested in sources, and come from the original Babylonian Empire from 2000 BCE, not the Chaldean Empire or Persian Empire of the Book of Esther.
The Targum connects the name with the Persian word for “star”, ستاره setareh, explaining that Esther was so named for being as beautiful as the Morning Star. In the Talmud (Tractate Yoma 29a), Esther is compared to the “morning star”, and is considered the subject of Psalm 22 because its introduction is a “song for the morning star.”
…Here’s how it worked, according to experts who have examined the worm:
–The nuclear facility in Iran runs an “air gap” security system, meaning it has no connections to the Web, making it secure from outside penetration. Stuxnet was designed and sent into the area around Iran’s Natanz nuclear power plant — just how may never be known — to infect a number of computers on the assumption that someone working in the plant would take work home on a flash drive, acquire the worm and then bring it back to the plant.
–Once the worm was inside the plant, the next step was to get the computer system there to trust it and allow it into the system. That was accomplished because the worm contained a “digital certificate” stolen from JMicron, a large company in an industrial park in Taiwan. (When the worm was later discovered it quickly replaced the original digital certificate with another certificate, also stolen from another company, Realtek, a few doors down in the same industrial park in Taiwan.)
–Once allowed entry, the worm contained four “Zero Day” elements in its first target, the Windows 7 operating system that controlled the overall operation of the plant. Zero Day elements are rare and extremely valuable vulnerabilities in a computer system that can be exploited only once. Two of the vulnerabilities were known, but the other two had never been discovered. Experts say no hacker would waste Zero Days in that manner.
–After penetrating the Windows 7 operating system, the code then targeted the “frequency converters” that ran the centrifuges. To do that it used specifications from the manufacturers of the converters. One was Vacon, a Finnish Company, and the other Fararo Paya, an Iranian company. What surprises experts at this step is that the Iranian company was so secret that not even the IAEA knew about it.
–The worm also knew that the complex control system that ran the centrifuges was built by Siemans, the German manufacturer, and — remarkably — how that system worked as well and how to mask its activities from it.
–Masking itself from the plant’s security and other systems, the worm then ordered the centrifuges to rotate extremely fast, and then to slow down precipitously. This damaged the converter, the centrifuges and the bearings, and it corrupted the uranium in the tubes. It also left Iranian nuclear engineers wondering what was wrong, as computer checks showed no malfunctions in the operating system.
Estimates are that this went on for more than a year, leaving the Iranian program in chaos. And as it did, the worm grew and adapted throughout the system. As new worms entered the system, they would meet and adapt and become increasingly sophisticated…
Despite Iranian claims in October that their nuclear systems were cleansed of the Stuxnet virus, Iranian sources confirm that the invasive malworm is still making trouble. It shut down uranium enrichment at Natanz for a week from Nov. 16 to 22 over breakdowns caused by mysterious power fluctuations in the operation of the centrifuge machines enriching uranium at Natanz. The shutdown was reported by the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano to the IAEA board in Vienna on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Rapid changes in the spinning speed of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium to weapons-grade can cause them to blow apart suddenly without the monitors detecting any malfunction. The Iranian operators first tried replacing the P1 and P2 centrifuges used at Natanz with the more advanced IR1 type, but got the same effect. They finally decided to shut the plant down until computer security experts purged it of the malworm.
But then, when work was resumed Monday, about 5,000 of the 8,000 machines were found to be out of commission and the remaining 2,500-3,000 partially on the blink.
Tuesday, Ali Akbar Salehi, Director of Iran’s Nuclear Energy Commission tried to put a good face on the disaster. “Fortunately the nuclear Stuxnet virus has faced a dead end,” he said. However, the IAEA report and Western intelligence confirm that the virus has gathered itself for a fresh onslaught on Iran’s vital facilities.
According to an exclusive report, Stuxnet is also in the process of raiding Iran’s military systems, sowing damage and disorder in its wake.
On Nov. 17, in the middle of a massive air defense exercise, Iranian military sources reported six foreign aircraft had intruded the airspace over the practice sites and were put to flight by Iranian fighters. The next day, a different set of military sources claimed a misunderstanding; there had been no intrusions. Iranian fighters had simulated an enemy raid which too had been repulsed. debkafile’s military sources disclose there was no “misunderstanding.” The foreign intruders had shown up on the exercise’s radar screens, but when the fighter jets scrambled to intercept them, they found empty sky, meaning the radar instruments had lied.
The military command accordingly decided to give up on using the exercise as a stage for unveiling new and highly sophisticated weaponry, including a homemade radar system, for fear that they too may have been infected by the ubiquitous Stuxnet worm.
Symantec: W32.Stuxnet Dossier (PDF)
W32.Stuxnet component extraction (Liam O Murchu)
Stuxnet: A Breakthrough (Eric Chien)
Tofino: Siemens PCS7 WinCC Malware
Updated links – end