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United States Government Security

Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran 415

Posted by Soulskill
from the cyber-bombshell dept.
diewlasing sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program. Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran's Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet."
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Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @07:47AM (#40178717)

    So I guess this means we're officially at war with Iran since it was declared that acts of cyberterrorism would be considered acts of war, right?

    • So the fact that stuxnet was developed by the US gov is official now ?

      So they paid the 2 company to get valid hardware certificate ??

      • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:05AM (#40178889)

        No it's not offical. this is just a reporter's opinion sourced from conversations with people whose names he won't reveal at times he won't reveal, who know things that nobody should know. for instance, he details the exact contents of a meeting that consisted of 3 people, president Obama, vice president Biden, and (At the time) CIA director Leon Panetta. For him to have this conversation, it means he has interviewed either the president, the vice president, or Panetta on this. Fat fucking chance.

        It's probably true, but no it's no way in hell close to "offical".

        • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:17AM (#40179019)

          I know what happened in a lot of meetings I never personally attended. Participants talk, transcripts are shared, etc. I suspect this info came second or third-hand from the people under Panetta.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:35AM (#40179189)

          Maybe he got a transcript of the meeting from the Chinese?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @09:01AM (#40179467)

          Also note that said reporter is trying to sell a new book.

          Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power [randomhouse.com], by David E. Sanger. Hardcover on Sale: June 05, 2012.

        • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday June 01, 2012 @09:45AM (#40180059) Homepage

          The problem with this kind of journalism is that we can sit back and say that of course this guy doesn't have the real scoop. But why wouldn't someone high up in Iran not take this to his boss and say "See, they admit it!" The logical followup from Iran is to step up actions, unleash the dogs of war and start preparing to take out Tel Aviv.

          Sure it is nice the people in the US are free to come up with stuff like this and "theorize" about it. The problem is that the separation between the journalist and reality may not be quite so apparent to those on the other side of this. This is actually an extremely provocative statement, supposedly from informed sources in the US government. So provocative in fact as to pretty much dare Iran to do something about it.

          It doesn't matter that we can laugh and say it is all BS. It might not appear that way in Iran. And it isn't going to be a subject of humor to them, ever.

          • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday June 01, 2012 @10:57AM (#40180931) Journal

            The logical followup from Iran is to step up actions, unleash the dogs of war and start preparing to take out Tel Aviv.

            This is only a logical followup if Iran thinks they can win. And that's not a war the Iranian regime will survive, because Israel has second-strike capability.

            The logical followup from Iran is to harden their defenses, which is what they have been doing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bob9113 (14996)

            unleash the dogs of war and start preparing to take out Tel Aviv.

            Iran is not seriously considering attacking Tel Aviv. Not now, not any time in the near future. They know exactly what would happen if they attacked Israel. The only possible exception is if they think we are about to attack (in the conventional, air assault and invasion sense, not limited cyberwar) and they are going to get wiped out anyway. They may do some things that seem irrational from our Western perspective, but they are not stupid. Th

          • It gets even worse. If this is indeed to be proven bullshit the loons around the world will still repeat it as if it was truth. The number of web pages repeating the fallacy completely dominate the page with the retraction. Hence it becomes a 'truth' that 'everyone knows' and modifies people's behaviour (eg. the loony fringe).

            Here is a case study to prove my point. After years of sustained rocket attacks from Gaza on Southern Israel the Israelis launched Operation Cast Lead to stop the menace. The Israel

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @07:53AM (#40178783)

      We have always been at war with Iran, citizen.

      We have always been at war with Afghanistan. Even in the 1980s, when Saint Reagan gave vast funds to our allies, the Russians, to defeat Osama Bin Laden.

    • by Extremus (1043274) on Friday June 01, 2012 @07:59AM (#40178827)

      Which brings up a interesting question: can a cyberwar escalate to a real war? If so, what would provoke that transition?

      • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:08AM (#40178937)

        I'd guess non-negligable damage to economic interests, or more likely physical damage to material assets... like say using a virus to cause physical damage to a nuclear weapons production facil...oh shit.

        • by ArcherB (796902) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:26AM (#40179095) Journal

          I'd guess non-negligable damage to economic interests, or more likely physical damage to material assets... like say using a virus to cause physical damage to a nuclear weapons production facil...oh shit.

          Yes, but there are no nuclear weapons production facilities, according to Iran. It's hard to go to war over damage to facilities that don't exist.

          • by cdrguru (88047)

            Uh, except these aren't nuclear weapons production facilities, supposedly. It is uranium enrichment for peaceful nuclear power.

            If this "admission" were to be taken seriously I would expect Iran to be mighty pissed about it and want something worth millions (tens of millions?) to happen to the US, somewhere, somehow.

          • by Arker (91948)

            They dont deny facilities exist, and were attacked, and were damaged.

            Only that the facilities in question have anything to do with *weapons* - the claim is that they are pursuing only civilian nuclear power/radioactive medicines and the like, which the NPT says they have a right to do.

        • Historically one reason sticks out above all others when it comes to casus belli. People go to war when 2 things are satisfied :
          1) they want to (for whatever reason, racism, jealousy, or even justified grievances. Grievances usually only justify a limited conflict, like capturing military superiority in a sea passage)
          2) they think they can win

          For Iran 1) is certainly true. I would even say it's obviously true. 2) not so much.

      • The hardware (nuclear installations in this case) blowing up should be sufficient, I guess.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Apparently, it didn't. And if there will be a real war it won't be caused by the US hacking Iran but because Iran creating nukes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      We are at war in Iran. We have always been at war with Iran.
      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:25AM (#40179087)

        The U.S. has a remarkable history of fighting people that we ourselves have trained and armed in some earlier coup. That may have something to do with the fact that meddling in other country's interest may have short-term benefit, but it can (and frequently does) backfire and produce long-term problems. Iran is a great example. We overthrow [wikipedia.org] their democratically-elected government to put in our figurehead [wikipedia.org] so we can get their oil. Worked great until 1979. Now we've spent the last 30 years with a country that despises us.

        • by krammit (540755) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:55AM (#40179393) Homepage
          The late, great Bill Hicks said it best: I'm so sick of arming the world and then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries, then we go and blow the shit out of them. We're like the bullies of the world, you know. We're like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheep herder's feet: "Pick it up."
          "I don't wanna pick it up mister, you'll shoot me."
          "Pick up the gun."
          "Mister, I don't want no trouble, huh. I just came down town here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about 10 rolls a week of that stuff. I ain't looking for no trouble, mister."
          "Pick up the gun."

          Boom, boom.

          "You all saw him. He had a gun."
        • It sounds silly on the surface, but really the broader goal is to keep the rest of the world sufficiently destabilized so that no one nation or group of nations can gain the kind of power that could pose a threat to the U.S. Ergo, when big, bad Russia was absorbing nearby nation-states we stepped in to Afghanistan in the 1980's to put a stop to that. When Afghanistan started looking like a rallying point for Islamic unification against the United States in the 2000's, we stepped in there to stop any such
    • If by war you mean "destruction of property" then yes, I suppose you could say we're at war. But then you'd be using such an overly broad definition of "war" as to make the term useless.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I believe he means that certain actions are considered "acts of war" meaning we just handed Iran a reason to say we are already at war with them.

        Normally destruction of a governments property is considered an act of war. This would meet the first requirement in the UN charter for a legal war. Iran can now attack the USA stating that it is defending itself against further attacks. In reality they will not, they are just being used to make the Israelis and a subset of the American population happy.

        See http:// [wikipedia.org]

    • by isorox (205688) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:19AM (#40179029) Homepage Journal

      acts of cyberterrorism would be considered acts of war, right?

      Only when perpetrated by the bad guys

      Remember the invasion of Afghanistan was a Police action, but Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was an invasion

      • I live in Europe, and the US do seem like bad guys time and time again. They even declared war on the Netherlands for housing the International Court of Justice. How bad can you be?
      • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:56AM (#40179413)

        Only when perpetrated by the bad guys

        Remember the invasion of Afghanistan was a Police action, but Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was an invasion

        Apples and oranges. Iraq invaded Kuwait for 2 reasons: their oil, and they wanted better access to the Gulf. The US invaded Afghanistan in response to an attack that was made possible through the materiel and other support of the Taliban government. Iraq went into Kuwait to steal oil. What did the US go in to Afghanistan to take? Bases? We didn't need bases in Afghanistan. They have negligible amounts of oil, we don't need their poppy and marijuana, nor their natural gas. You're comparing 2 different actions with 2 completely different motivations and justifications.

        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday June 01, 2012 @11:22AM (#40181219) Homepage

          What did the US go in to Afghanistan to take? Bases? We didn't need bases in Afghanistan. They have negligible amounts of oil, we don't need their poppy and marijuana, nor their natural gas.

          The key natural resource for the last 20 years in Afghanistan has been the prospect of oil and natural gas pipelines running from Caspian Sea region to the Indian Ocean. And waddaya know, as soon as the Karzai government backed by the US was in power, there were new agreements signed regarding oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan.

          And Iraq is probably also about oil, as well, since the Project for a New American Century [newamericancentury.org] (membership including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz) explicitly advocated the US taking control of all the major oil supplies in the world as a way of controlling everything else that was going on in the world.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:20AM (#40179039)

      I can see a campaign commercial now.

      Obama single handily Killed Osama, wrote stuxnet AND snuck it into Iran on a USB key.

      • I can see a campaign commercial now.

        Obama single handily Killed Osama, wrote stuxnet AND snuck it into Iran on a USB key.

        USB key? I thought it was a Mac Book Pro ....

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      You think the rules that the US declares apply to other nations, apply to the US? How naive.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday June 01, 2012 @11:08AM (#40181035) Homepage

      No, you don't understand the rules: It's not an act of war when we do it to them, only when they do it to us.

  • Please don't stop (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rooked_One (591287)
    giving me reasons to think both the dummycrats and retardlicans are on the same side.

    ps - we aren't allow on their side.
  • Sophisticated (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday June 01, 2012 @07:55AM (#40178797)

    Rather than ordering more sophisticated attacks, why not just order more effective attacks?

  • hypocrisy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joe545 (871599) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:04AM (#40178881)
    With one hand, attack the nuclear computer systems of another country and with the other hand, demand extradition and decades of imprisonment for those who break into your systems to have a look around.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:07AM (#40178917)

    A story like this doesn't just magically happen. It's not wikileaked. So why would someone want this story in the public? Could it be so that tension between the USA and Iran ratchets up? Because that could induce a whole lot more spending on the military. And all those people who aren't going to be making buckets of money from Iraq and Afghanistan will either need to adjust their standard of living downwards, or find new sources of income. Getting military with China is a bad idea, North Korea is too close to China - look what happened last time - it's the only reason there is a North Korea. Nope: better to pick on a country more isolated.

    • *cough* election year *cough*
    • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday June 01, 2012 @09:22AM (#40179707)

      A story like this doesn't just magically happen. It's not wikileaked. So why would someone want this story in the public? Could it be so that tension between the USA and Iran ratchets up? Because that could induce a whole lot more spending on the military. And all those people who aren't going to be making buckets of money from Iraq and Afghanistan will either need to adjust their standard of living downwards, or find new sources of income. Getting military with China is a bad idea, North Korea is too close to China - look what happened last time - it's the only reason there is a North Korea. Nope: better to pick on a country more isolated.

      Thank you for providing an example of how people should interpret the news. Many still think the news is there to inform them, when in actuality it is there to tell them what to think. "Why would somebody want this story public?" is always the right question to ask when dealing with any spokesperson or press agent, corporate or government.

  • Unnamed Sources? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Post-O-Matron (1273882) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:13AM (#40178973)

    I don't understand one thing - all of this is based on David Sanger's book, which in turn is based on "unnamed US, European and Israeli sources".

    Other than the author's reputation, do we have anything resembling evidence that this isn't just a science fiction book being sold?

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:14AM (#40178981)

    When Stuxnet came out, every time someone posted that it was likely the creation of Israel and/or the U.S., they were greeted by a surprising number of deniers who were trying to claim it was Russia or Saudi Arabia, or maybe that Iran *themselves* created it, etc. Of course, this was insane. But there seem to be a LOT of people out there who have their head buried in the sand when it comes to U.S./Israeli intelligence activities in Iran. I bet even now if I were to say that Mossad had assassinated all those Iranian nuclear scientists, there would be several idiots who would jump up and claim it was someone else, or that Iran had just staged the assassinations.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:49AM (#40179323)

      The people you talk about are probably on the payroll, we had some forums once and every time we got a little anti American or anti Isreal two posters would always pop up and defend them. It seemed it was their only posts ever. Now eventually me and a friend did some research and found out there are large numbers of people employed to just give Isreal and the USA good press on the net.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:22AM (#40179057)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_ajax

    Every single thing that we complain about Iran being is our fucking fault and now we blatantly continue with our evil foreign policy.

    Every single thing that I was told this country stood for is a lie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is a great wiki article, thanks for the refresher ;-)

      Half way down is an interesting quote that brings this back to the original topic:

      "The action was publicized within Iran by the CIA and in the United States by The New York Times.

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Friday June 01, 2012 @10:29AM (#40180629) Homepage

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_ajax

      Every single thing that we complain about Iran being is our fucking fault and now we blatantly continue with our evil foreign policy.

      Every single thing that I was told this country stood for is a lie.

      Someone should post that link every time someone spews "Islam is evil. They hate us for our freedoms."

  • by adosch (1397357) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:23AM (#40179065)
    I'm less concerned about going to 'troops-on-the-ground' war with Iran than I am having this Stuxnet-a-la-Flame end back up in the United States lap that cripples some of our infrastructure. Obama has cracked the egg on remote warfare with this cyber-terrorism code slingers and the uber ramp up of drone usage from the end of the Bush era.

    FTFA, our officials should have a good check on the premise that cyber warfare's shock value of implementation is very unexciting. It's different when you have physical assets to move around the globe vs. telling a someone to sling code and infiltrate an infrstructure such as an Iranian nuclear facility. You don't see the benefits or out-of-controllness in chunks, it's all or nothing once it's in place.

  • Now Iran has a justifiable reason for whatever retaliation they had in mind anyway. If you're going to do stuff like this, getting caught isn't an option. Nice job derps.

    • by unixisc (2429386) on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:56AM (#40179405)
      In retaliation, Iranian agents have infiltrated Microsoft, Canonical and GNOME and designed the next generation of user interfaces like Metro, Unity and GNOME3, so that Western Computer users will stop using computers, and attempts to sabotage their computers will be minimized. Imagine Pentagon officials having to struggle w/ GNOME3. Imagine Israeli cybercrime experts having to do this on Unity.
  • ... of the tax payers funding on warfare technology.

    When you screw others enough it simply wouldn't be intelligent to not expect retaliation and when you can use tax payer funding without their knowledgeable consent...

    This is about Banking and about getting everyone on the same abusive and controlling banking system.

    Money is an abstract representation of value and honestly only intended to ease trade... but its instead become a produce in and of itself in order to manipulate and control economies around the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @08:58AM (#40179427)

    The only fact I see in all this is: The USA has not officially taken responsibility for an international incident.

    This story is by someone making sensationalist claims to sell a book, and the NY Times is helping promote it.

    As usual, the NY Times reporter relies on anonymous sources. No one knows how reliable they are. No one knows who they are.

    The NY Times and their anonymous sources are known to be wrong, like the WMD in Iraq. So we trust them now?

    The NY Times is known to make up news, such as Jason Blair. Can anything they say about Stuxnet be independently verified as being correct? No?

  • Got to love how Obama went from "Blackberry Candidate" to "Cyber Sabotage & Drone 'Secret Kill List' President". He's clearly in love with the unaccountable power that technology offers.

    It's sickening to see how everyone in the US political establishment (Democrats, Republicans ie. all "respectable" people) cheer when the executive branch orders drone assassinations abroad. And boy do they love how "clean" and "efficient" those are. Hey, no Americans were hurt, the public loves to hear about the military killing bad guys and since these are conducted in remote areas, the US government doesn't even have to deal with the bad PR of "weeping widows" videos. It's all good! Who needs to seek Congress approval for declaring war, when technology allows you to wage a permanent and global secret war?

    It is believed that having more democracies around will ultimately increase world stability because democracies loath going to war and the voting public sees it as a last resort solution. Well, so far the biggest democracy in the west seems to have a giant boner for secret drone wars. Well, its executive branch at least, the public doesn't need to hear know about it in details, those informations are classified you see, national security and all.

    Don't these people realize the real damage caused by drones strikes? They are breeding generations of new enemies. The next time terrorists successfully blow up Americans or Americans allies, ask yourself: how would you react if people from your home town/area/country were droned in the night by a foreign power?

    And if you were Iranian and you heard that the US is actively trying to sabotage your country's nuclear program, wouldn't that increase your support for the Iranian government and its policy to get nuclear technology, even when you actually loath Ahmadinejad and his authoritarian regime?

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