United States Prepares for Iranian Cyber Attacks

Dennis Faas's picture

The United States Air Force (USAF) plans to add 1,000 cybercrime experts to its current workforce of 6,000 computer professionals. The reason: there is a concern that Iran may soon pose a serious threat to US Internet security.

Although the Air Force budget as a whole is likely to be cut, observers expect extra recruits in Space Command, the unit responsible for monitoring and controlling United States Internet security, satellites, and long-range missiles. (Source: ohsonline.com)

Cyber Command: Leading, Preventing Online Attacks

Space Command is a unit within the larger Air Force Cyber Command, which brings together computing operations within all US armed forces. Cyber Command also works to defend against Internet subterfuge and carries out its own cyber attacks on enemy computer systems.

For example, Internet security experts working for the US military could use their skills to gather intelligence on foreign military operations or disrupt enemy communications.

On the defensive side, staff of Cyber Command try to deter the reported "millions" of attempted attacks on US military computer networks that are launched every day.

Iranian Threat May Have Increased

These cybersecurity operations are overseen by General William Shelton, who recently pointed to Iran as a particular area of concern. Ironically, he believes previous attacks on Iranian technology may have increased the threat Iran now poses to the United States.

Shelton referred to the recent Stuxnet virus outbreak as evidence of this problem. Stuxnet was intentionally written to compromise computer control systems and cause physical damage to Iranian nuclear equipment.

For example, Stuxnet could be used to cause a centrifuge to repeatedly speed up and slow down until its motors physically wore out.

Although the US has never officially admitted responsibility for creating the Stuxnet virus, credible media reports have said the American government played a major role in the Stuxnet attacks. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

As a result of Stuxnet, according to Shelton, Iran has been forced to upgrade its online defenses. In recent years it has successfully warded off attempts by US security experts to breach security at key Iranian weapons facilities.

Shelton has warned that system upgrades now make Iran a serious cyber-security threat to the United States.

"They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the potential capabilities that they will develop over the years and the potential threat that will represent to the United States." (Source: bbc.co.uk)

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