Politics

Report: Obama ramped up cyberattacks against Iran

Josh Peterson Tech Editor

Faced with the prospect of Iran edging ever closer to the development of a nuclear weapon, President Obama ordered an increase in cyberattacks against Iran during his first year in office, a new report reveals.

In an adaptation of an excerpt from a new book, “Confront and Conceal,” by David E. Sanger,  The New York Times reported Friday that Obama ramped up cyber attacks against Iran, including the more well-known STUXNET — which mapped out Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz, and later reprogrammed the facility’s computers to destroy centrifuges necessary for enriching uranium.

STUXNET, which has long been suspected by analysts to have been developed in relative cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, was part of a larger classified program called Olympic Games, a program initially begun under President Bush in 2006 when the option of an all-out military attack was considered off the table.

“Meeting with Mr. Obama in the White House days before his inauguration, Mr. Bush urged him to preserve two classified programs, Olympic Games and the drone program in Pakistan,” said Sanger. “Mr. Obama took Mr. Bush’s advice.”

Security researchers have found that the “most sophisticated and powerful cyberweapon to date,” FLAME, has been wreaking havoc on computers in the Middle East. FLAME is suspected to have originated from the same country or countries as STUXNET, FoxNews reported.

The issue of protecting the nation’s own infrastructure against cyber attacks from nation-states, terror groups and organized crime has been a major concern to U.S. lawmakers who are pushing to pass legislation that will adequately address the threat. Both the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, popularly referred to as CISPA, and the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 — also called the Lieberman/Collins bill — are part of that effort.

Russia and China, expressing their concern over cybersecurity issues, have pushed for a reform of the current voluntary “multi-stakeholder” process by which the Internet is currently governed. Their proposal is just one of many to be considered at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai in December.

Follow Josh on Twitter