US Official Warns Against Potential Cyber Threats From Iran
January 18, 2013

Is Iran America’s Greatest Cyber Threat?

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Feeling threatened from the 2010 Stuxnet attack against their nuclear plants, Iran is improving its cyber-attack program and could have America in its sights, says one US General.

According to Bloomberg, General William Shelton, the head of the US Air Force Space Command, believes that Iran is the biggest cyber threat facing the US today.

“They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the potential capabilities that they will develop over the years and the potential threat that will represent to the United States,” said General Shelton, reports BBC News.

“It´s clear that the Natanz situation generated a reaction by them,” said the General.

This isn´t the first time officials have suspected that America´s admission of involvement with Stuxnet would one day lead to such retaliation.

The US Air Force Space Command is the sector of the American military which includes the newest breed of soldier - cyber-troops. Speaking to reporters about these soldiers, General Shelton said Iran is improving their cyber capabilities and will continue to be a major threat to America when it comes to web-based attacks.

In a statement given to the United Nations last week, Iran said they respect “international law and refrains from targeting other nations´ economic or financial institutions.”

In 2010, a group including Israel and the United States targeted Iran´s Natanz Uranium processing plant with a specially made virus called Stuxnet. This virus targeted the reactors at Natanz, causing them to operate out of control and eventually fail, foiling the Iranians nuclear plans. The attacks against Iran have continued since Stuxnet, targeting other key components of Iran´s government and military. Most recently, Iran announced they had been fighting off attacks which had targeted some of their oil plants in their Hormozgan province.

These attacks had been going on for months before Iranian officials acknowledged that they had mostly been able to ward off these attacks. According to Iranian news sources, these attacks had originated in Dallas, TX reaching Iran by way of Malaysia and Vietnam.

Since these attacks, Iran has stepped up their cyber defense tactics to protect these important oil refineries and other governmental buildings, said General Shelton. With key terminals protected, they could begin an offensive attack.

Some have claimed that Iran has already returned cyber-fire in retaliation for the Stuxnet attacks. Last September, some US banks reported having trouble with their Web sites. Bank of America, JP Morgan and Chase, Wells Fargo and others each claimed customers were having trouble accessing their respective sites, leading Senator Joseph Lieberman and others to claim Iran had begun to target the US financial system. Iran denied any involvement with these attacks. These banks and more are now looking to the government for protection against future cyber-attacks, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department.

According to General Shelton, the US Air Force Space Command currently has 6,000 cyber-troops ready to stand up against any attack, Iranian or otherwise. He plans to add another 1,000 cyber-soldiers in the next year. The current troops have already been successful in fending millions of attacks against American networks, said General Shelton.