The cyberwar of words and malware between US/Israel and Iran

On Sunday, theIsraeli Times reported, “The cyberwar is already here, and Israel apparently lost the first round.” A suspicious file had been found on police computers, and on Thursday they were all taken off-line.

Roni Bachar, head of Israeli security firm Avnet, commented, “At this point, I think we can be fairly certain that it was sponsored by a nation-state, most likely Iran.” Since then, Trend Micro has analyzed the offending malware and says, “The attack began with a spammed message purporting to come from the head of the Israel Defense Forces, Benny Gatz.” Its analysis shows that the associated malware is an Xtreme remote access Trojan (RAT) backdoor designed to steal information.

Yesterday it was reported that Hitcher, a member of the Muslim Liberation Army hacking crew, had defaced more than 80 Israeli sites, including two government sites in protest “in response to the Injustice against the Palestinian people. Israel is a serious threat to Palestinian.” Many will see the motivation ultimately leading back to Iran.

Earlier this month US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor”. He said, reported the New York Times, “he was reacting to increasing aggressiveness and technological advances by the nation’s adversaries, which officials identified as China, Russia, Iran and militant groups.” The report goes on to note that Panetta “avoided using the words ‘offense’ or ‘offensive’ in the context of American cyberwarfare.” He also said nothing about Stuxnet, part of the Olympic Games operation launched by Bush and intensified by Obama against the Iranian nuclear program.

Now Iran has also gone on the propaganda offensive. “Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi called attention to the US role in cyber terrorism saying it is trying to pave the way for committing more cyber terrorist attacks by accusing other countries,” reports the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “The US is the genesis of cyber terrorism, the US government intends to pave the way for increasing its cyber terrorist measures by projection and accusing others," Vahidi said in response to the recent remarks by the US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.” 

Israel did not escape. “Israel is an exemplar of cyber terrorism [which] tries to put pressure on independent countries by engineering and launching cyber attacks against them. They have planned and launched many cyber attacks against Iran," which are, of course, futile “because of the capabilities of Iranian experts in the field.”

Propaganda is a key part of all warfare from all sides – and that clearly includes the new form of cyberwarfare.

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