American officials say Iran is behind a new wave of destructive cyber attacks on American corporations and energy firms, according to a report by the New York Times — a wave that WND warned about nearly two years ago.
The May 24 Times article said the targets included American oil, gas and electric companies with a goal of finding ways to seize control of critical processing systems.
The Department of Homeland Security warned this month about the cyber attacks, and one government official told the Times, “Most everything we have seen is coming from the Middle East.”
Government officials and other experts, according to the report, confirmed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the source of the attacks had been narrowed down to Iran.
However, America had earlier been warned of cyber attacks by Iran. As reported in a WND exclusive in August 2011, Iran had been planning to retaliate against the United States for its efforts to stop the Islamic regime’s nuclear program.
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A July 29, 2011, editorial in the Keyhan newspaper, the mouthpiece of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the U.S. has all of its infrastructure connected to the Internet and as a result, “it is constantly worried about an unknown player whom they will never be able to identify … sitting in some corner of the world who would launch an attack on a sector of (America’s) foundations. They will be taught the mother of all lessons.” That warning was carried in the WND’s story.
The editorial mocked the Pentagon with its announcement that cyberspace will be considered a war zone and that it will retaliate against cyber attacks: “The laughable part of this document is when the neurotic American generals threaten hackers sitting behind their computers who attack America (that they) should be careful that a cruise missile does not fly in through their heating pipes to destroy their turf.”
The United States is no longer the unequivocal leader of the Internet, the editorial said. “Diverse and interesting players have now come on the scene and have … managed to inflict some costly and unprecedented damages on the American Internet infrastructure. … Due to the convenient global nature of the ‘players,’ their network operates outside time and space. They can be anywhere from right under Mr. Obama’s ear in Washington, D.C., to the depths of the African desert.”
The editorial accused the U.S., with the help of Israel and Germany, of creating the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities.
“Americans are under the (mistaken) impression that they are the only ones who can strike violent blows against their most ardent opponents and not sustain any real damage,” the editorial warned.
Part of the Keyhan editorial and its warning were used in the April 2012 presentation of Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, to the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies and the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
As reported in April 2011, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards, during a meeting among Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commanders and Iranian scientists, America’s vulnerabilities for a cyber attack were discussed. They concluded that the U.S. power grids represent the best opportunity for such attacks, as more U.S. utilities are moving their control systems to the Internet and using smart-grid technology.
The head of Iranian cyber warfare within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Gholam Reza Jalali, officially had blamed the U.S. and Israel for Stuxnet – a mysterious computer worm that has harmed Iran’s nuclear program. The Guard officials have repeatedly warned of retaliation – both for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran, which they called acts of espionage, and for Stuxnet.
Reports by the U.S. Department of Energy’s inspector general found that the nation’s power grid is still prone to cyber attack. The vulnerable state of the power grid was blamed on several factors, especially the fact that the “critical infrastructure protection” cyber standards, which power companies were to have fully implemented, are not effective.
Other reports within the U.S. have concluded that cyber spies have penetrated the U.S. electric grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system. It is also believed that the Chinese have attempted to map the U.S. infrastructure, including the electric grid.
While China has little incentive to disrupt the U.S. economy, Iranian leaders see it as an opportunity to further weaken U.S. supremacy. A successful cyber attack on the North American power grid could disrupt the economy and possibly create a national trauma.
Iran’s cyber warfare unit is now actively recruiting hackers from around the world for what it promotes as the goals of the Islamic republic.
Iran has also been suspected of cyber attacks on Saudi oil companies and Israeli companies that handle critical infrastructure.