Los Angeles Times & AntiWar.com – 2012-06-03 00:02:27
Cyber-attack on Iran Came from US, Report Says
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES (June 2, 2012) — It reads like a riveting sci-fi novel, but it’s stunningly real: A supersophisticated malicious computer virus burrowed its way into Iran’s nuclear facilities and took down several parts of the operation. Oh, and it apparently came from us.
In 2010, it was the United States who launched Stuxnet, a seek-and-destroy cyber-missile so sophisticated that some briefly thought it might have an other-than-earthly origin, against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, according to a New York Times report. The virus was, in fact, created jointly by the United States and Israel.
In his first months in office, President Obama covertly ordered sophisticated attacks on the computers that ran Iran’s nuclear facilities, upping US use of cyber-weaponry in a sustained attack, the newspaper said.
Early on, a programming error allowed the worm to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and whoosh around the world on the Internet.
“Should we shut this thing down?” Obama asked, members of his national security team who were in the room told the paper.
Ultimately, the super-worm was left to wreak its havoc, and it took out 1,000 of 5,000 centrifuges Iran was using to enhance uranium, according to the report. It was as effective as a bomb or agents infiltrating the country’s nuclear facilities to plant explosives, the report said.
German cybersecurity expert Ralph Langner found the worm in 2010. As his team dug deeper into the code, each new discovery left them more impressed and wondering what was coming next, he told NPR. The sophistication of the worm seemed almost alien. But it was, indeed, decidedly terrestrial in nature.
Only recently has the government acknowledged developing cyber-weapons, though it has never admitted deploying them.
Now efforts are under way to decipher the origins of another malicious program experts believe is part of government-sponsored cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering. Again, Iran is the target.
As the Los Angeles Times Sergei L. Loiko wrote earlier this week, computer virus experts at Russia’s Kaspersky Lab came across this malware while searching for a villain called the Wiper.
“We entered a dark room in search of something and came out with something else in our hands, something different, something huge and sinister,” Vitaly Kamlyuk, a senior antivirus expert at Kaspersky Lab, said in an interview.
Flame, as it’s called, can copy and steal data and audio files, turn on a computer microphone and record all the sounds nearby, take screenshots, read documents and e-mails and capture passwords and log-ins.
The program can communicate with other computers in its vicinity through the infected computer’s Bluetooth and locate them even without an Internet connection, Kamlyuk said.
(c) 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
CIA, Department of Energy Behind
Program to Attack Iran Computers
Officials Say Move ‘Preferable Alternative to Airstrikes’
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 1, 2012) — Details continue to pour in about the Obama Administration’s decision to authorize a hostile computer hacking campaign against Iran, one of the first decisions he made upon taking office.
The most public of the attacks, Stuxnet, which was also an embarrassment since it quickly spread beyond the Iranian nuclear program and started attacking industrial computers across the planet, was created by the CIA, with the help of the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory.
Israeli experts were also involved in the creation of the Stuxnet worm, and while this fact has been floating around over a year, officials are just now getting around to confirming it.
US officials have defended the move, saying they believed it was a “preferable alternative to airstrikes,” but the enormous damage such viruses have caused when they inevitably move beyond the target and start attacking computers worldwide suggest it isn’t exactly a panacea either.
Despite the damage of the Stuxnet fiasco, the Obama Administration has continued the program. Though it has yet to be confirmed, it is widely believed that the Flame Virus, an advanced surveillance program, is also a product of this scheme.
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