Tags: Iran | cyber | terrorism | threat

Cyber Terrorism Is Iran’s Real Threat to US

Tuesday, 06 Nov 2012 09:23 AM

By Peter Moses

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While politicians debate the Iranian nuclear threat, the larger issue posed by the outcast nation isn’t nuclear, but cyber. Numerous published reports claim Iran was behind a string of cyber attacks against U.S. bank websites and other companies.

"Before Sept. 11, 2001, the warning signs were there. We weren't organized. We weren't ready. And we suffered terribly for that lack of attention," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, The Associated Press reported. "We cannot let that happen again. This is a pre-9/11 moment."

The September 2012 attacks against the banks were 10 to 20 times larger than the run-of-the-mill denial of service attacks, more than twice the record for a cyber attack meant for a specific target, according to CrowdStrike, a security firm that investigated the attacks, CNNMoney reported.

Editor's Note: This Wasn’t an Accident — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown

A virus attack against computers at the Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco destroyed 30,000 corporate computers, over 75 percent of that company’s computers.

Iran is also suspected of masterminding a similar attack against Qatar’s RasGas, an Exxon-Mobil subsidiary.

"Iran is trying to demonstrate that it has a capability to disrupt life in the West," Roger Cressey, senior vice president at security consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, told CNNMoney. "Its argument is: 'Whatever you in the West may do to us, know that it will not be a pain-free operation.'"

Iran’s attempt to disrupt the West using cyber tactics is new. Until recently, most cyber espionage against U.S. interests have come from Russian gangsters and hackers from China, which were not state-supported. Some elected officials and experts in the field, believe this new tactic is unsurprising given the sanctions the West have enacted against the rogue Iran.

"If the U.S. is really saying that these attacks came from Iran, and if they are really attacking American financial systems, which is most vital part of its critical infrastructure, behind the United States' back, then how far will the U.S. let them keep going forward before this becomes a declaration of war?" Jarno Limnell, director of cyber securty at Finnish security firm Stonesoft, told CNNMoney.

Panetta told an audience last month at the Intrepid Air and Space museum in New York about the dangers of cyber terrorism, according to the AP. While he didn’t specifically point to Iran, watchers and experts all believe his remarks were meant for the Middle Eastern country. He also said the United States has developed ways to identify where these attacks originated.

"Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for their actions that may try to harm America," Panetta said. He also claimed Iran has "undertaken a concerted effort to use cyberspace to its advantage."

He issued to grave message to any nation or individuals targeting U.S. interests.

"Our mission is to defend the nation,” said Panetta. “We defend. We deter. And if called upon, we take decisive action to protect our citizens."

Editor's Note: This Wasn’t an Accident — Experts Testify on Financial Meltdown

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