U.S. Suspects Iran Was Behind a Wave of Cyberattacks

American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Iran was the origin of a serious wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in United States, episodes that contributed to a warning last week from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that United States was at risk of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor”. After Panetta’s remarks on Thursday night, American officials described an emerging shadow war of attacks and counterattacks already under way between United States and Iran in cyberspace. Among American officials, suspicion has focused on the “cybercorps” that Iran’s military created in 2011, partly in response to American and Israeli cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz, though there is no hard evidence that the attacks were sanctioned by Iranian government. The attacks emanating from Iran have inflicted modest damage. Iran’s cyberwarfare capabilities are considerably weaker than those in China and Russia, which intelligence officials believe are the sources of a significant number of probes, thefts of intellectual property and attacks on American companies and government agencies. The attack under closest scrutiny hit Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, in August. Saudi Arabia is Iran’s main rival in the region and is among the Arab states that have argued privately for the toughest actions against Iran. Aramco, Saudi state oil company, has been bolstering supplies to customers who can no longer obtain oil from Iran because of Western sanctions. The virus that hit Aramco is called Shamoon and spread through computers linked over a network to erase files on about 30.000 computers by overwriting them. Mr. Panetta, while not directly attributing the strike to Iran in his speech, called it “probably the most destructive attack the private sector has seen to date.” Until the attack on Aramco, most of the cybersabotage coming out of Iran appeared to be what industry calls “denial of service” attacks, relatively crude efforts to send a nearly endless stream of computer-generated requests aimed at overwhelming networks. But as one consultant to the U.S. government on the attacks put it several days ago: “What the Iranians want to do now is make it clear they can disrupt our economy, just as we are disrupting theirs. They are quite serious about it.” The revelation Iran may have been source of the computer attacks was reported earlier by The Washington Post and The Associated Press (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/world/middleeast/us-suspects-iranians-were-behind-a-wave-of-cyberattacks.html


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

2 Responses to U.S. Suspects Iran Was Behind a Wave of Cyberattacks

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Cyber warfare, the genie is out of the bottle. During my years of graduate work at MSU in the 70s, Iranians were the best foreign students in hard sciences, particularly computing and engineering. Saudis had the best scholarships and were the laziest students, taking classes in tourism, hotel management and business administration. Despite clipping financial and economic sanctions, Iran has the brains and technical capability to mount a powerful cyber warfare team. The only constraint to open conflict in the cyberspace is the nature of this new battle field. Any medium sized country can create a cyber war unit capable of crippling or disrupting major operational systems in any advanced country. In order to avoid a direct air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, the US and Israel initiated a cyber warfare against Iran. Retaliation from Iran is not a surprise as apparently did happen against Saudi oil and US financial targets. We are watching the dawn of a new battlefield of the 21st century, fought in the cyberspace.


  2. (…..) In an important disclosure, Mr. Panetta said that the military has made “significant advances” in tracking the perpetrators of cyberassaults and that they should know “the United States has the capacity to locate them and to hold them accountable.” This could mark a promising step forward in a difficult area of cybersecurity, but Mr. Panetta did not say whether an attack can be traced in real time, or fast enough to permit certain retaliation. Most of Mr. Panetta’s speech was devoted to building defenses against cyberattack. He rightly urged Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation, now stalled, that would help the government share information with the private sector. But he also broached, opaquely, the need to go beyond defense. If there is an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant, physical destruction in the United States or kill American citizens, he said, the Pentagon “has developed that capability to conduct effective operations to counter threats to our national interests in cyberspace.” What is this capability? Is it cyber, or does it rely on more traditional weapons? Mr. Panetta did not say, nor did he use the word “offense.” We know from news reports that the United States carried out a damaging cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment with a computer worm called Stuxnet in a classified intelligence operation. But officially, the existence of a U.S. offensive cyberstrike capability remains shrouded in secrecy. It shouldn’t be. If the American people are to be ready for a cataclysmic cyberattack of the kind Mr. Panetta describes and if the U.S. military is building offensive cyberweapons, we need more transparency about this emerging domain of conflict and the risks it entails. We need to engage in a policy discussion like the one we had about nuclear weapons for many years. It is encouraging that Mr. Panetta took up this important topic, but his remarks have just barely cracked open the door.



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