US Fears Rising Iranian Cyberattacks
Officials believe Iran was behind recent attacks
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2012 9:22 AM CDT
This image details a focus of the cyber virus Flamer, as researched by the cyber security firm Norman ASA. Among the many websites that Flamer appears to be interested in are those in the Middle East.   (PRNewsFoto/Norman ASA)

(Newser) – The US believes that Iran was behind an Aug. 15 cyberattack on Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company and the world's most valuable firm, and that it was retaliation against the US for unleashing the Stuxnet virus on an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010, the New York Times reports. The Aramco attack, one of the most destructive cyberattacks ever, erased data from 75% of the company's corporate computers and replaced it with a picture of an American flag in flames. A hacking group called "Cutting Sword of Justice" took responsibility for the so-called Shamoon virus, claiming to be upset about Saudi policies—but that claim, the flag image, and other clues are probably red herrings, computer researchers say, and the US believes Iran was the true perpetrator, though a company insider is suspected to have been involved.

One component of the virus, the mechanism set to erase data, was called "Wiper." That same name had been given to a similar erasing component of the Flame computer virus that attacked Iranian oil companies earlier this year, which first raised suspicions that Iran might be behind the Aramco attack. The US and Israel, which were behind Stuxnet, are also believed to have been behind Flame. US intelligence officials also think Iran was behind an attack on Qatari natural gas giant RasGas that took place two weeks after the Aramco hacking, as well as attacks last month and this month that disrupted US banking websites. This is a wake-up call, the officials say, proving Iran is more capable and more bold than the US had previously suspected when it comes to cyber warfare. See the Times for an extensive look at the Aramco attack.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
Oct 27, 2012 8:24 AM CDT
We've been at war with Iran since 1979, only most Americans don't seem to know it. They took 54 of our diplomats hostage for 444 days. Their proxies have killed Americans. Most of this war has been a cold war, but a war nonetheless. The Iranians are not a backwards nor stupid people, and most don't like the regime that rules over them, but then neither did most Russians during the Cold War either. Most Americans are blindsided by Iran. They don't know anything about it. Iranians are smart, technically savvy, and their Supreme Fuehrer is on a mission from Allah. But then, most Americans had no clue they were on a collision course with Japan until Pearl Harbor happened. Most Americans believed that the Japanese wore thick glasses and couldn't hit the side of a barn. Even after 9/11, Americans still think they live in on a secluded island.
Oct 24, 2012 3:37 PM CDT
SO send the cyborgs after the cyber terrorists, we do have cyborgs right? What?
Oct 24, 2012 1:01 PM CDT
For some reason, I just can't get worked up over erasing the files of an oil company. Better not mess with my ITunes files though!