In 1982 there was a huge explosion along a Serbian gas
pipeline, there were no reported casualties reported due to the explosion but
it was a massive loss for the soviets’ economy. It was later revealed that the
explosion was caused by a piece of sabotaged software supplied by the CIA in
order to weaken the soviets earning potential in the west. The CIA’s plan came
as a response to information gained through a French spy within the KGB named
Col Vladimir Vetrov, codenamed farewell. Who had acquired a list of software
the soviets were going to attempt to steal from the US, which included a piece
of software that would control the pumps, turbines and valves, was to be used
to upgrade their trans-Serbian pipeline and export gas to western Europe. The
CIA then decided to sabotage the software so that a while after it was
installed and running it would reset the pump speeds and valve settings, this
would produce pressures which far exceeded the acceptable limits for the joints
and caused the welds to burst to explosive results. The explosion was so
powerful that it could be seen from space and was one of the largest
non-nuclear explosions ever made. It was initially believed that the explosion
may have been due to a soviet nuclear device. If this event was a tragic accident
or a great success is a matter of perspective, for the Americans it was a
success that helped to economically cripple the Soviet Union. And for the
soviets it was a monumental loss of natural gas that was very economically significant.
This event does serve to highlight the dangers of stealing software or
technology from a competitor and could have been totally avoided if the soviets
had instead decided to develop their own software instead of stealing the
software of an enemy nation which they should have known would be gathering
information on their intentions. But even if they had no way of developing
their own software so stealing it was still the best option then they should
have either had better counter intelligence so that no enemy spies could have
discovered the plans to steal this software, or they should have carefully
checked the software that they stole in order to make sure that there was no
code that would cause catastrophic damage to the pipeline.