Iran Accuses U.S. and Israel of Spreading Holiday Stuxnet "Cheer"
December 26, 2012 3:57 PM
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Hostile Middle Eastern power says it successfully defended itself against the supposed cyberattack
On Christmas Day, Tuesday December 25, a top Iranian military official held
a press conference
claiming that his nation had endured an attack by the U.S. and Israel. The attack, which allegedly targeted the nation's power grid, is said to be derived from the industrial malware Stuxnet.
I. A Delicate Balance
Iran is a key power broker in the Middle East. Its hostile stance to Israel and the U.S. have led to sanctions and an embargo on its oil exports, however, Iran is a key oil supplier to China.
The U.S. and Israel have leveled strong accusations against the increasingly high-tech Islamist republic in recent years. Iran is accused of funneling rockets and money to Palestinian militants, whose official charter demands their ranks to drive the non-Muslims out of Israel to bring on Judgement Day [
]. Iran was accused of acting as a key catalyst of the
recent escalation in rocket attacks
Militants in the Gaza Strip recently put up billboards thanking Iran for its
"support" of their Islamist militants. [Image Source: AP]
Additionally, the U.S. and Israel have been very concerned about Iran's nuclear development program. While Iran
its right to develop nuclear capabilities, and claims its program to be peaceful, U.S. and Israeli intelligence claim its end objective is to
develop deadly nuclear weapons
Iran was allegedly
linked to recent inter-continental ballistic missile tests
in North Korea, raising fears that the nation could one day develop nuclear strike capability with a long enough range to target the continental U.S.
II. Cyber-Attacks Allow U.S., Israel to Skirt Barriers Against Attacking Iran
While China's close relationship with Iran has largely stifled the possibility of further United Nations sanctions or direct attacks, it does not appear the the U.S. and Israel are sitting idle. There is a wealth of evidence that the U.S. and Israel have instead turned to cyberattacks as a covert route to damaging the hostile power.
Intimate details of the program, dubbed Olympic Games,
first emerged over the summer
The New York Times
. Allegedly personally authorized by Presidents George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, the effort leveraged sophisticated malware dubbed "
", and "
Flame was reportedly designed primarily as a watcher, to gather intelligence. Stuxnet's purpose was more bold -- it sought to infect and damage Iran's stock of aged Siemens AG (
) P-1 centrifuges, which Iran allegedly acquired from Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's nuclear chief.
The attack on the centrifuges was preceded by a worm that mapped Iran's networks. President Bush authorized these early attacks. [Image Source: CBS]
Written by the Israeli Defense Forces' Unit 8200, Stuxnet enjoyed a tremendous initial success. It broke 1,000 out of 5,000 centrifuges, according to reports, and for a time tricked the Iranians into thinking they were simply the victims of misfortune.
But Stuxnet's secrecy was punctured when an update introduced an error, causing the malware to go from only infecting machines in a narrow Iranian target range to infecting machines worldwide. As security experts took note of the spreading digital epidemic and the curious centrifuge directives contained therein, Iran
finally became aware
that the failures had been no mere coincidence -- it had been sabotage.
More recently, the U.S. and Israel were accused of
attacking Iran's oil industry
in an effort to further destabilize the nation's troubled economy.
II. New Attacks Allegedly Look to Cripple Power in Key Port
In a speech on Tuesday Provincial civil defence chief Ali Akbar Akhavan added to the list of accusations, commenting, "The Bandar Abbas electricity supply company has come under cyber attack [on December 25]. But we were able to prevent its expansion owing to our timely measures and the co-operation of skilled hackers."
[Image Source: BBC News]
Bandar Abbas is a key port city for Iran, by which it ships goods to China and North Korea.
It's virtually impossible to know for sure whether the claimed attacks are real, or just an effort by Iran to further glorify
its fledging cyberwarfare units
, while villainizing its enemies. The line between reality and fiction has become muddled in recent months.
On the one hand a wealth of evidence suggests that the U.S. and Israel are actively attacking Iran with malware. U.S. President Barack Obama, when questioned on the topic, commented that his nation would do "what we must" to prevent Iranian nuclear capabilities.
On the other hand, Iran's accounts in recent months of perpetual cyber-barrages and its claims that it has
repelled many of the assaults
have at times been questioned by security experts.
IV. An Act of War?
If the U.S. did attack Iran's power-grid it would be perhaps the first real-world test of an attack which U.S. intelligence has
long warned of
The Chinese have reportedly been
working on power grid attack capabilities
, with some reports suggesting hackers affiliated with the Chinese government have
implanted scripts into machines in the U.S.
power grid. However, there have been no reports to date of China actually
such attacks on the U.S. and its allies.
If the Iranian claims are authentic, it raises serious questions for Congress. The
U.S. Department of Defense
recently released a set of guidelines, which label such attacks
as an act of war
, if used against the U.S.
Did President Obama "declare war" on Iran without Congressional permission; that's a key question in the wake of new allegations from the Iranians. [Image Source: AP]
The question is if the reverse applies -- if U.S. power grid attacks on its enemies are also acts of war. If so, the effort could raise awkward questions for President Obama. While both major ruling parties in the U.S. support efforts against Iran, it is unconstitutional for the President to declare war on another country without the permission of Congress.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
12/26/2012 9:53:53 PM
12/26/2012 10:59:53 PM
The Iranians are an extremely war-like people with their 1 war since that revolution in the 70s (where they got rid of that brutal dictator we gave them). The one where the US supported Saddam Hussein's attack on them.
As opposed to the peaceful US foreign policy which has involved attacking a couple dozen other countries.
A common complaint about hardware and software reviews is that the charts in them aren't 0 to whatever the maximum is. Instead it's like 40 to 50 and makes a small difference between a Radeon getting a 43 and a Geforce getting a 47 look like a huge difference. And I agree with this. Here's my point, scroll down a bit in this article and have a look:
I'm not sure how big your monitor is, but you might have trouble seeing Iranian spending on military stuff compared to the US.
If the link doesn't take, then the US spends ~700 billion dollars. Iran spent (the equivilent in dollars) ~12 billion which was increased to 27 billion. Anyone want to calculate how many times they'd need to double that to catch up? Don't bother, I'll do it, if they increase their spending by 2^5 (32 times) they'll be up to 864 billion and out spending us by 23%! Oh, the horror!!
The idea that Iran is some sort of Fierce Aggressor and Serious Threat deserves to be treated with the seriousness of the threat of a minotaur attack. The US and Israel both have tougher militaries and nuclear weapons. Iran's "nuclear program", the euphemism used by people who are lying to you and want to conflate nuclear energy with nuclear weapons, is safeguarded by the IAEA. And the Uranium 235 needed for nukes (U238 is removed; it's what the cetrifuges are for) needs to be over ~90% which is nowhere near what Iran is enriching to.
But to all the sniveling cowards scared of Iran: Don't worry. Our Dear Leader will be destroying their country and murdering them by the tens of thousands in March. I don't mean to meander into spoiler-country, but they won't love and appreciate us for the democracy we give them.
12/27/2012 11:07:10 AM
Iran went to war with Iraq for over a decade. They use chemical warfare and are still digging bodies up out of mass graves today.
You are a fool.
12/27/2012 11:15:25 AM
a million not millions.
12/27/2012 11:47:51 AM
Iraq was the chemical weapons using aggressor.
"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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