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Flash news from SANS NewsBites Vol.14 Num.44:

 –President Obama Ordered Stuxnet and More Attacks on Iran
(June 1, 2012)
(By Gautham Nagesh, CQ Executive Briefing on Technology)
The New York Times has a bombshell this morning: President Obama began
ordering cyberattacks on Iran within days of taking office. The story,
which is a must-read, finally confirms what many cybersecurity experts
have suspected: the Stuxnet worm, which disabled industrial equipment
in Iran and Europe, was originally designed by Israel and the U.S. to
slow down Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant. The virus’ escape from Iran’s
Natanz plant and subsequent discovery in Germany in 2010 was a mistake
that U.S. authorities blamed on Israel. Former CIA chief Michael Hayden
also acknowledged to the Times that Stuxnet is the first major
cyberattack intended to cause physical destruction (to Iranian
centrifuges). “Somebody crossed the Rubicon,” he said.

The article includes a history of the classified cyberweapons program,
dubbed “Olympic Games,” which began under President Bush, and includes
details of how President Obama decided that digital attacks were
preferable to a potential military conflict between Iran and Israel. But
the bottom line is that President Obama (and his predecessor) ordered a
sophisticated campaign of cyberattacks against Iran’s nuclear program,
and has either attacked or considered attacking networks in China,
Syria, and North Korea as well. The Obama administration previously
acknowledged that it might respond to cyberattacks with physical force,
but the report makes it clear that even as the U.S. was making those
threats, it was perpetrating cyberattacks on the very nations it accuses
of targeting its networks.

In doing so, the White House has seemingly opened a Pandora’s box.
Administration officials have placed a greater emphasis on cybersecurity
and the threat to our nation’s networks that any previous
administration, doubtless because they had first-hand knowledge of just
how much damage sophisticated cyberattacks are capable of causing. Those
officials might have also feared reprisals from nations that were
targeted by Stuxnet and other digital attacks from the U.S. The
revelation also sheds some light on the Pentagon’s reluctance to outline
its cyberwarfare policies in detail, since doing so might have involved
disclosing to Congress that the U.S. already was fully engaged in online

Having taken such an aggressive stance on deploying Stuxnet, it will be
very difficult for the U.S. to keep casting itself as the innocent
victim of unprovoked attacks by countries looking to steal our economic
and military secrets. Today’s report makes it clear that the White House
long ago decided to embrace digital warfare, and puts the onus squarely
back on the administration to clearly explain its rules of engagement
online. But the greatest impact may be internationally, where hostile
nations now have confirmation the U.S. could be targeting their
networks. If hackers in those countries weren’t already attempting to
take down U.S. critical infrastructure, they probably are now.


–Pentagon’s Plan X Aims to Develop Robust Cyberwarfare Capabilities
(May 30, 2012)
The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  is
launching a five-year, US $110 million research program dubbed Plan X.
DARPA is seeking input from private sector organizations, universities,
and computer game companies in its effort to develop improved
cyberwarfare capabilities. Goals include creating a comprehensive map
of cyberspace that is updated continuously, developing an operating
system strong enough to launch cyber attacks and withstand
counterattacks, and creating systems that allow commanders to launch
speed-of-light attacks.

Bueno, bueno, bueno…


One Comment

  1. …ora… quarantotto.

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