Panetta says cyber attackers accessed controls for critical US infrastructure:
In a blunt admission designed to prod action, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday night told business executives there has been a sudden escalation of cyber terrorism and that attackers have managed to gain access to control systems for critical infrastructure.
In a speech in New York City, Panetta said the recent activities have raised concerns inside the U.S. intelligence community that cyber terrorism might be combined with other attacks to create massive panic and destruction on par with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“These attacks mark a significant escalation of the cyber threat. And they have renewed concerns about still more destructive scenarios that could unfold,” he said. “For example, we know that foreign cyber actors are probing America’s critical infrastructure networks.
“They are targeting the computer control systems that operate chemical, electricity and water plants, and those that guide transportation throughout the country,” he added. “We know of specific instances where intruders have successfully gained access to these control systems. We also know they are seeking to create advanced tools to attack these systems and cause panic, destruction, and even the loss of life.”
Current and former U.S. officials tell the Washington Guardian that U.S. investigators have growing evidence that Iran was behind a recent wave of cyber attacks, particularly those that temporarily paralyzed energy interests in two Middle East countries that are key U.S. allies.
Panetta stopped short in his speech of formally accusing Iran but left no doubt America has strong suspicions about Tehran. “Iran has also undertaken a concerted effort to use cyberspace to its advantage,” he declared. […]
US: Hackers in Iran responsible for cyberattacks:
U.S. authorities believe that Iranian-based hackers were responsible for cyberattacks that devastated Persian Gulf oil and gas companies, a former U.S. government official said. Just hours later, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the cyberthreat from Iran has grown, and he declared that the Pentagon is prepared to take action if American is threatened by a computer-based assault.
The former official, who is familiar with the investigation, said U.S. authorities believe the cyberattacks were likely supported by the Tehran government and came in retaliation for the latest round of American sanctions against Iran.
Before Panetta’s remarks on Thursday, U.S. officials had said nothing publicly about the Gulf attacks or the investigation. But Panetta described them in a speech to business leaders in New York City, saying they were probably the most destructive cyber assault the private sector has seen to date.
Panetta did not directly link Iran to the Gulf attacks, but he said Tehran has “undertaken a concerted effort to use cyberspace to its advantage.” And, he said the Pentagon has poured billions into beefing up its ability to identify the origin of a cyberattacks, block them and respond when needed.
“Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests,” said Panetta in a speech to the Business Executives for National Security.
A current U.S. official acknowledged Thursday that the Obama administration knows who launched the cyberattacks against the Gulf companies and that it was a state actor.
U.S. agencies have been assisting in the Gulf investigation and concluded that the level of resources needed to conduct the attack showed there was some degree of involvement by a nation state, said the former official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is classified as secret.
While Panetta chose his words carefully, one cybersecurity expert said the Pentagon chief’s message to Iran in the speech was evident. […]
Makes you wish the act of war they committed in 1979 had been acted upon, doesn’t it?