/// Cyberwar in Iran Comes Home to U.S. Banks. Is Anyone Surprised?

January 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital


It’s a fundamental truth of warfare than when you attack your enemy, you open yourself up to a retaliatory attack of some kind. It’s true enough in the real world, and now true in the realm of cyberwarfare, as well. It appears to have been a retaliatory action by Iran that hit a batch of U.S.-based banks last fall with a series of ongoing distributed denial-of-service attacks. The New York Times says that U.S. government officials are internally blaming Iran for the attacks, which since September have disrupted the online banking operations of numerous American banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp and PNC. The retaliation is for the numerous cyber attacks that have been carried out by the U.S. and Israel against Iran’s nuclear research program. The most famous of these was a sophisticated computer worm called Stuxnet that burrowed deep into industrial control systems at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant and caused centrifuges to spin out of control and explode, while computer screens monitoring their condition displayed readings that appeared normal. Others included Flame , which turned computers into sophisticated spying tools, using built-in video cameras and microphones, and Gauss , which sought to intercept bank-account information. The educated guesses of computer security experts have all pointed to state actors in these attacks on Iran and, logically, the most motivated parties happen to be the U.S. and Israel. The governments of either country have never officially acknowledged responsibility for the attacks — they never do — but the Times reported the collaboration a year ago. What’s disturbing in the attacks on the U.S. banks is that data centers used by cloud computing providers — none of them were named — were hijacked in some way to carry out the attacks. It stands to reason that civilian entities like data centers could be used to carry out such attacks.

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Cyberwar in Iran Comes Home to U.S. Banks. Is Anyone Surprised?


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