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Iran Claims New Cyber Attack On Its Nuclear Plants, Blames US and Allies 289

Posted by timothy
from the probably-not-from-hezbollah dept.
judgecorp writes "Iran has reported that its nuclear facilities are under a sustained cyber attack which it blames on the U.S., UK and Israel. America and Israel created Stuxnet, and have been accused of starting the Flame worm." And once a country admits that it's created such software, publicly deflecting such blame gets a lot harder.
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Iran Claims New Cyber Attack On Its Nuclear Plants, Blames US and Allies

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:32AM (#40410533)

    I'm pretty sure you've figured out by now that the U.S. and Israel are trying to sabotage your nuclear program. If the numerous targeted computer viruses didn't clue you in, you must have at least noticed the dead bodies of your nuclear scientists starting to pile up.

    Don't you know there's a war on, son?

    • Exactly... At this point, they should expect it. And so should we... Of course, the easiest way to disrupt our network communications is still a well placed physical disruption.
      • by Ostracus (1354233) on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:48AM (#40410707) Journal

        Of course, the easiest way to disrupt our network communications is still a well placed physical disruption.

        It's called a Slashdotting. Pioneered it, back in the day.

    • by trum4n (982031) on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:49AM (#40410719)
      Why don't they just unplug their modems?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:52AM (#40410755)

      I'm pretty sure you've figured out by now that the U.S. and Israel are trying to sabotage your nuclear program. If the numerous targeted computer viruses didn't clue you in, you must have at least noticed the dead bodies of your nuclear scientists starting to pile up.

      I wonder how many of those scientists came to untimely ends due to the actions of our spies, and how many of them disappeared due to the actions of their spies.

      Now that the existence of these cyberweapons is out in the open, every time something actually goes wrong with Iran's programme, the first thing they'll do is assume sabotage and find someone to punish, even if it was just a routine fuckup. For bonus points, maybe in their paranoia, the Iranian secret police take out the very people who could have helped fix the bug.

      In turn, this makes their remaining engineers even more paranoid -- about each other, as much as they're afraid of both our spies and their own secret police.

      What makes these new targeted attacks intriguing is that while some of them are almost certainly aimed at Iran, some may not be. But that doesn't matter. It's like kids releasing four skunks into a high school as a senior prank -- after having spraypainted "1", "2", "3", and "5" on their backs.

      The more paranoid the organization, the more likely it is to tear itself apart finding a nonexistent saboteur. Looks like we might be due for another big old storm of chaos. (As a Westerner, I certainly hope so :)

      • When playing Team Fortress Classic, I always felt my job as spy was complete when I'd sneak into the enemy base and see them all shooting each other out of paranoia that they were all spies. :)
      • by mr.mctibbs (1546773) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:09AM (#40411801)
        Fun speculation, but the news seems to have that covered already:

        http://www.salon.com/2012/02/10/israel_mek_and_state_sponsor_of_terror_groups/

        It appears that Israel is in fact using the MEK to assassinate these scientists. This is the same organization, by the way, that several US politicians are supporting openly, despite the organization being on our list of terrorist organizations. Looks like Israel's a state sponsor of terror. Who would have guessed?
        • Yeah, it doesn't make sense that Iran would kill them in public either. They would just disappear if they wanted them gone.

          Like this. [youtube.com]
        • Not the first time the US has supported terrorists, I can think of two more off the top of my head right now, both of which would have been on the CIA terror list while being supported.

          Remember, one mans terrorist is anothers freedom fighter, and this extends to those states who sympathise with their cause, and are willing to support them.

      • ARRGH I feel so incomplete with your last sentence!!!

        The more paranoid the organization, the more likely it is to tear itself apart finding a nonexistent saboteur. Looks like we might be due for another big old storm of chaos. (As a Westerner, I certainly hope so :)

        Is that a smiley or a bracket??!!?1!!!

    • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:03AM (#40410915)

      I dont believe it. Our government has denied all involvement, and thats good enough for me.

    • So you would be as dismissive if Iran bombed the Pentagon or the Whitehouse?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        So you would be as dismissive if Iran bombed the Pentagon or the Whitehouse?

        I don't know about dismissive, but since the USA has announced that cyberwarfare is just warfare and thus we may retaliate conventionally against cyber attackers, and the USA is responsible for a cyberattack (OK look, I'm just using the vernacular) against Iran, that's a tacit admittance that we are unofficially at war with Iran... so if they bombed the Pentagon or the Whitehouse, it would be striking back. (and suicidal...)

      • by Stickerboy (61554) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:38AM (#40411349) Homepage

        It's called proportionate response. Iran pretends that its "peaceful" nuclear program isn't producing weapons-grade materiel, and the US is doing what it can to make sure that it doesn't produce weapons-grade materiel.

        But if Iran were to do something as colossally stupid as bombing the Pentagon or White House, no one would be dismissive. In fact, it would likely unite the people of the United States in conducting a protracted hot war that would send Iran back into the Stone Ages. Think Pearl Harbor and the response. Or 9/11 and what's happened to the leadership of al Qaeda.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by garbut (1990152)
          Given the truth about Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, others including 9/11, it's more likely that the US would do something to its own Pentagon or White House to unite the people against Iran.
      • by phayes (202222)

        I don't know about the GP but first off, I don't call border guards luring tourists to come closer & then when they do imprisoning them & theratening them with 25 year sentences for spying normal relations.

        Secondly, while I won't cry over dead Iranian nuclear scientists I don't believe that the USG has killed any of them. Ask an Israeli whether he fells justified in his government killing the scientists helping to build a bomb for a country that regularly threatens them with extermination.

        Lastly, wh

    • by Cigarra (652458)
      Given that there is no declared war, Iran has all the right to denounce US and Israel to the international community. If only so nobody forgets about who the real aggressors are.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:32AM (#40410535)

    No one "officially" has admitted to Flames, Stuxnet, or otherwise. It's always some anonymous source, or former (apparently the current ones are too busy to give interviews) official.

    • You mean that guy who has been to Roswell? I know him! ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      you sure?

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/confirmed-us-israel-created-stuxnet-lost-control-of-it/?utm_source=Ars+Technica+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8d7f11ba51-September_02_2011_Newsletter&utm_medium=email

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html?_r=2

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:01AM (#40410881)

        God, will people even read the articles they try to use as proof? In BOTH articles, it's stated that the articles is based on Sanger's Book. They are using the book as "proof of confirmation" in which case I can easily argue that it is NOT. Confirmation = Confirmation of the accused or hard proof. In both respects, the book is not either of these.

        Referencing a book by the person who first made the accusation, Confirmation from the person who first made the accusation? I think not...

  • Oh noes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:39AM (#40410589)
    Your nuclear weapons program for enriching uranium was fucked up because of a computer virus.

    You know what DOESN'T need highly enriched uranium? CANDU and Throrium reactors. Gee, I wonder why Iran isn't interested in those, the only difference is that they can't be used to make nuclear weapons...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thorium reactors absolutely do require uranium. Thorium is not a fissile material. Thorium is a stock material that is bread in to uranium during the course of reactor operation. The actual reactions are uranium, and said reactions create more uranium, which is in turn fissioned, etc etc. The idea is you feed more thorium in to the reactor "soup" and the reaction continues.

      The problems with thorium reactors that have not been solved:

      1. The reactor has to be primed with fissile uranium. They can not self sta

  • Admits? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:41AM (#40410603)

    Where has once have the government admit they created it? Both links are just basically from David Sanger and his book where the first link is an article by him and the 2nd link an adaptation of the story-line from his book (which they state at the very bottom of the article).

    I'd hardly call that the government admitting it when it's more like an accusation from someone with possible inside sources. Nowhere in any of these articles has there even been a comment made by the US government. If you are gonna report on something, at least put the correct viewpoint on it. All these "confirmation" articles are just articles respinning the story made by Sanger.

    As for it's validity, could be true, could be false. But i definitely don't like the way it's being told. It's more akin to being told a fantasy novel then an actual news report. They don't even have quotes from their sources stated specifically. The entire story is told in a mix of imagination and (possible) facts which aren't clear.

    • The verity and verifiability of the accusations is immaterial; the "I want to believe" factor is just too good to pass up!
      • Re:Admits? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:04AM (#40411731)

        the "I want to believe" factor is just too good to pass up

        The "I want NOT to believe" factor is even stronger for people like you. You've got some of the most reputable newspapers in the country reporting it from real sources (though, of course, anonymous for obvious reasons). You've got Congress investigating how it leaked, the President saying "I didn't leak it," drunk Israeli generals bragging about it, etc. Short of a "Yep, we did it" official press release from the NSA, that's about as good as it gets.

        But some people want to keep their head buried deep in the sand, I guess. That's fine. But not all of us are from Missouri.

  • And the UK! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:41AM (#40410609)

    Iran is such a great country, I love how they act like my country is still important.

    • Re:And the UK! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:05PM (#40412621)

      The UK sponsored and the US assisted with the Shah overthrowing the elected government. The UK was the prime player in this because they were the former colonial power. As a result, all the brainwashing done on every Iranian citizen about how evil the west is focuses on the UK and US. When something bad happens the natural response is to tap into all that brainwashing and blame the US and UK along with Israel (whom every leader in the mideast blamed for every problem for decades). So it doesn't matter what's happened, if someone is being blamed for something it's ALWAYS the US, UK and Israel. Doesn't matter what it is or even if it's related or not.

  • Bad Idea? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gabrill (556503)

    Isn't kind of a bad idea to deliberately mess up controlling computers in a nuclear plant?

    I get that Iran has a deserved reputation for abusing their neighbors, but if the US causes a meltdown, then we're in the wrong.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Depends on your view...

      Most of the US would consider a meltdown over there, much better then a bomb over here...

      (note: I'm not saying that opinion is morally correct, just prevalent and in some way justifiable)

    • "They", whoever "they" are, are trying to mess with the systems used to enrich uranium for bombs; centrifuges and the like.

      And "they" cannot resist the opportunity to stick a weed up Iran's ass, whatever the consequences.

    • Re:Bad Idea? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ostracus (1354233) on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:51AM (#40410747) Journal
      How does one "meltdown" a centrifuge?
      • by forand (530402)
        I would imagine that you program the breaking mechanism to be active at the same time as the rotation motor.As heat builds up it causes the contact points to heat up and, since one is spinning at high rotational velocity, it can fly apart as the physical integrity is compromised. But that is just a guess.
      • by ljw1004 (764174)

        How does one "meltdown" a centrifuge?

        If you're a virus on the PC set up as the centrifuge's controller, then you send instructions telling it to vibrate at such a high speed for such a sustained time that its bearings fuse from the heat (and/or it shatters).

    • Re:Bad Idea? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @09:52AM (#40410765)

      Isn't kind of a bad idea to deliberately mess up controlling computers in a nuclear plant?

      The only thing deliberately messed up were the speed controllers on the centrifuges which were enriching Uranium, and the 'messed up' meant that the speed would very subtly oscillate in speed to mess up the enrichment process.

      There is no part of that which could cause a meltdown.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      we're in the wrong

      LOL. What are you, 15? The USA and Israel have done a lot worse than melt down a nuke plant or two. We've overthrown democratic governments, assassinated thousands of people without trial and violently murdered countless bystanders. All in the name of protecting a bunch of selfish brats who think "god" wants them to live in a specific piece of the desert.

      Intellectually speaking, I think you will find that the world's events are a lot easier to understand if you stop thinking of the US

    • by rnaiguy (1304181)
      This is not a nuclear power plant. It is a uranium enrichment facility. The amount of enriched uranium involved in a given accident would be small, and insufficient to cause a catastrophic meltdown.
    • by garbut (1990152)

      I get that Iran has a deserved reputation for abusing their neighbors

      Please explain.

      ...then we're in the wrong.

      Thousands of dead Americans and counting, a million dead Iraqis and counting, how are we not already in the wrong?

    • You do realize there is lots of machinery at nuclear facilities that aren't containing an active nuclear criticality, right?

  • After a while Iran gets to blame the US and Israel for every thing that goes wrong, whether they did it or not. Poor programmer, oh no not me, someone else caused that problem.

    (On the other hand, in Iran's eyes, they may think the US has declared war.)

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      On the other hand, in Iran's eyes, they may think the US has declared war.

      It's a hostile act. They've admitted to both Flame and Stuxnet I believe. Like it or not, the US has fired the first shots here, and have opened the door for retaliation. You don't get to do it, admit to it, and then just say "just kidding".

      Begun, the clone war has.

    • And this is different from what was happening previously exactly how?

      As far as war, both sides have been committing acts of war against each other for decades.

  • Think about it. Iranian govt coddles you and makes a national hero out of you. Unlimited clandestine budget. Bask in glory if things go well. When things go bad you have a ready made credible scape goat available.
  • I don't even grasp why you'd do that.

    That said, I believe the first wave of worms were spread around locally... That is, someone physically connected to machines inside their operations and intentionally spread the infection. There are more then a few Iranians that don't want the Ayatollah to have a bomb.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:04AM (#40410917) Homepage Journal
    What is this, the third time now? Usually you institute rules like "No browsing porn on the centrifuge control computers" after the first time. Maybe your scientists realize that if they start producing anything bomb-worthy, Israel will come in and flatten their facility, likely killing them all in the process. So maybe they just tell you "Oh! Those filthy Americans infected our computers again!" and go back to playing Tetris for another couple of years.
    • Stuxnet was initially spread via USB memory sticks - the rom on the stick was effectively corrrupted and utilized a zero-day exploit in Windows auto-read to get itself silently launched. That's how it got onto non-internet networks. Apparently any number of corrupted sticks were distributed in the area, hoping one would get used in a sensitive location. That's the theory anyhow (as i recall it).

      Aesop: take your IT guys seriously when they ban unsecured/non-approved USB sticks.

  • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:16AM (#40411081)

    And once a country admits that it's created such software, publicly deflecting such blame gets a lot harder.

    The link leads to another /. article, which leads to another, etc, until it eventually lands at this NY Times article [nytimes.com].

    This article is not an admission by anyone regarding Stuxnet, Flame, or anything else. It just allegedly quotes a bunch of anonymous sources about supposed top secret information.

    I promise I don't work for the federal government.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      It just allegedly quotes a bunch of anonymous sources about supposed top secret information.

      So did Woodward and Bernstein when they wrote about Watergate. You think Nixon issued a press release saying "Yeah, we did break-in."?

  • act of war (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amoeba1911 (978485) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:19AM (#40411119) Homepage

    A recently drafted cyber strategy formulated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) classifies digital sabotage as an act of war. [tgdaily.com]

    Here's a fact: The U.S. and Israel have started war against Iran. I don't remember congress ever approving this war, I don't remember the public ever being notified that our country is now at war with yet another country, despite being unable to pay for the half dozen other wars we're currently engaged in. This is completely unacceptable.

    • A recently drafted cyber strategy formulated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) classifies digital sabotage as an act of war. [tgdaily.com]

      Here's a fact: The U.S. and Israel have started war against Iran. I don't remember congress ever approving this war, I don't remember the public ever being notified that our country is now at war with yet another country, despite being unable to pay for the half dozen other wars we're currently engaged in. This is completely unacceptable.

      No, it's alleged that the "U.S. and Israel have started war against Iran." The claims are all by anonymous resources.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      If you wanna be technical about it, an act of war doesn't start a war. It can, but it doesn't have to, and in fact is totally on the country the act of war was committed against and how they respond to the act of war. See if you want to get technical, an Act of War is just an action that justifies war, it neither starts nor commits a nation to war. Iran won't respond to this act of war by declaring war because they know the US will hand their asses to them in rather short order and may possibly overthrow th

  • Imagine the number of "click here to remove your virus" programs Iran has downloaded trying to remove Stuxnet/Flame before they knew what it was. They've probably got so many backdoors on their network now they'll never get it totally clean.

  • by Papa Legba (192550) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:49AM (#40411495)

    Quickest way to tuff guy status? take Credit for someone else work. Guy drops dead all of a suddent take credit for his death, even if you had nothing to do with it. The US and Isreal are riding this wave that now everytime something in the cyber world drops dead its because they did it, no matter what happens, even if they are just as suprised as everyone else. This plays well into the Iranians need to blame their inability to produce anything in their nuclear program on someone else. We would have had a Bomb if it was not for those medling kids!

    I can say without a doubt that their is no Goverment Service worker that could have produced Stuxnet or Flame. I doubt it was a US contractor. They would have worked on it for sure, but they would have never delivered a final product and had that gravy train dry up.

    I have a strong feeling that all this "accidental" leaking is just a way to take credit without actually claiming you took credit.

    So when the iranians claim another attack I take it with a grain of salt. To many people have to much at stake claiming that something happend. Having something actually happen is besides the point.

  • Imagine America's reaction had the reverse happened. We'd be bombing Iran back to the stone-age for cyberterrorism.

    Considering this insult, Iran has class.

  • I think we can all agree that the US and Israel are behind the nasty bugs going around in Iran's nuclear program. What I'm not seeing people putting together is that there are more than Iranian consequences here. Russia is into building these things for billions of dollars. They have a heavily vested interest here. If you fear the hackers in Iran and our infrastructure, then I suggest you consider for a moment the scope and scale of the Russian cyber hacking skills, which may be for hire, and realize we are
    • by slew (2918)

      Russia is into building these things for billions of dollars. They have a heavily vested interest here.

      You are making the tacit assumption of course that the russians aren't doing hacking themselves...
      Oh you said that big bad wolf ruined your last centrifuge, tell you what, I'll give you a 20% discount on new replacement centrifuges... Don't worry, I'll take care of you...

      If billions of dollars are at stake, what's another billion in spare parts... ;^)

  • What is really stupid, most likely Stuxnet was created by some idiot from Israel, who overstepped the boundaries of a simple sabotage operation by making his software capable of spreading itself. Now both US and Israel are trying to take credit for something they did not consider to be acceptable, and incorporate this idiocy into their plans.

  • There's little point at taking the claims in press release like this at face value, even those of the better-quality reuters article http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/uk-iran-cyber-nuclear-idUKBRE85K1EG20120621 [reuters.com]

    About the last thing any government will do is to publicly release accurate details --or even accurate general-but-vague statements-- about an attack on a sensitive/classified program, or their response to such an attack. Going into detail about an attack risks providing useful information to

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