Also on Thursday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta unveiled his “pre-9/11 moment” speech which revealed that for two weeks, hackers had been hammering the websites of big American banks, the Saudi national oil company Aramco and Qatar’s Rasgas.In a strong comment, he said the US would strike back and consider a preemptive strike against cyber terrorism, without saying how or actually naming Iran.
However in leaks to the American media, former U.S. government officials and cyber-security experts reported that the administration believes Iranian-based hackers were responsible for what Panetta warned could be the first “cyber Pearl Harbor” against America.
The Wall Street Journal pointed to a team of 100 Iranian experts as the perpetrators of the cyber attacks on America and the Gulf oil states.
Tehran appears to be sending a message that if US-led sanctions continue to cut down its oil exports and restrict its banking business, Gulf oil producers and American banks would pay the price.
Panetta’s words may therefore be read as Washington’s final warning to Iran to desist from cyber warfare.
Before he turned to the cyber threat, the Syrian war had indeed tipped over into an escalating Turkish-Syrian showdown.
Both these developments mean that the waves of Middle East violence are lapping ever farther afield. All the parties with an interest in stirring up trouble are keeping a weather eye on the Obama-Romney debate next Tuesday to see if the president recovers the momentum he lost to his Republican challenger in the first debate.
Before or after the debate, each of them – Al Qaeda, Iran, Syria or Hizballah – is capable of taking direct action to show it is a player to be reckoned with. Such action may explicitly target an American interest or stir the pot by going for Israel, Turkey, Jordan, or a Gulf oil nation.
It can no longer be denied that Tehran is already on a cyber offensive against them all. In the absence of any response, Iran may decide to push further against its targets.
Full article: Spreading Iranian cyber attacks hit Israeli military, US financial and Gulf oil targets (DEBKAfile)