Iran Rapidly Building Cyber Warfare Capabilities

Highlighted in teal below is a perfect example of grey terror during the ‘overture’ phase, as described in Soviet defector Viktor Suvorov’s book “Spetsnaz. The Story Behind the Soviet SAS” in chapter 15, Spetsnaz’s First World War.

Here’s a lengthy exerpt:

In Washington, as the President’s helicopter is taking off, several shots are fired at it from sniper’s rifles. The helicopter is only slightly damaged and the crew succeed in bringing it down again safely. No one in the craft is hurt. Responsibility for the attack is claimed by a previously unknown organisation calling itself ‘Revenge for Vietnam’.

There is a terrorist explosion at Vienna airport.

A group of unidentified men attack the territory of the British military base in Cyprus with mortars.

A serious accident takes place on the most important oil pipeline in Alaska. The pumping stations break down and the flow of oil falls to a trickle.

In West Germany there are several unsuccessful attempts on the lives of American generals.

In the North Sea the biggest of the British oil rigs tips over and sinks. The precise reason for this is not established, although experts believe that corrosion of main supports is the culprit.

In the United States an epidemic of some unidentified disease breaks out and spreads rapidly. It seems to affect port areas particularly, such as San Francisco, Boston, Charleston, Seattle, Norfolk and Philadelphia.

There are explosions practically every day in Paris. The main targets are the government districts, communication centres and military headquarters. At the same time terrible forest fires are raging in the South of France.

All these operations — because of course none of these events is an accident — and others like them are known officially in the GRU as the ‘preparatory period’, and unofficially as the ‘overture’. The overture is a series of large and small operations the purpose of which is, before actual military operations begin, to weaken the enemy’s morale, create an atmosphere of general suspicion, fear and uncertainty, and divert the attention of the enemy’s armies and police forces to a huge number of different targets, each of which may be the object of the next attack.

The overture is carried by agents of the secret services of the Soviet satellite countries and by mercenaries recruited by intermediaries. The principal method employed at this stage is ‘grey terror’, that is, a kind of terror which is not conducted in the name of the Soviet Union. The Soviet secret services do not at this stage leave their visiting cards, or leave other people’s cards. The terror is carried out in the name of already existing extremist groups not connected in any way with the Soviet Union, or in the name of fictitious organisations.

The GRU reckons that in this period its operations should be regarded as natural disasters, actions by forces beyond human control, mistakes committed by people, or as terrorist acts by organisations not connected with the Soviet Union.

The terrorist acts carried out in the course of the ‘overture’ require very few people, very few weapons and little equipment. In some cases all that may be needed is one man who has as a weapon nothing more than a screwdriver, a box of matches or a glass ampoule. Some of the operations can have catastrophic consequences. For example, an epidemic of an infectious disease at seven of the most important naval bases in the West could have the effect of halving the combined naval might of the Soviet Union’s enemies.


Cyber attacks on banks, casino highlight growing threat

“Iranian hackers have been suspected in multiple incidents that inflicted damage on various entities in the private sector, including finance and energy firms,” according to the five-page report, “Pistachios and Saffron: Investigating the Iranian Cyber Threat.”

“Current analysis indicates Iran may intend to use its growing cyber force to attack global critical infrastructure,” the report added.

Once limited to website defacements and other less damaging attacks, Tehran’s hacker forces are now capable of using customized malicious software designed for use against specific victims.

Iranian hackers were blamed for several serious cyber attacks in recent years following reports of the U.S.-Israeli Stuxnet virus attack against Tehran’s covert uranium centrifuge program at Natanz.

Among Iran’s recent cyber attacks are:

  • Cyber disruptions aimed at U.S. government officials involved in nuclear nonproliferation;
  • A 2012 cyber attack on the state oil producer Saudi Aramco that destroyed 30,000 computers;
  • Cyber attacks against Israeli communications during the conflict with Hamas in the summer of 2014;
  • Hacking that compromised the Marine Corps intranet in 2012;
  • Large-scale denial-of-service cyber attacks against U.S. banks in two waves in 2012, and;
  • The use of wiper malware against networks at the Las Vegas Sands casino in 2014.

The Las Vegas casino attack was confirmed by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, during congressional testimony in February.

Clapper stated that Iran regards cyber attacks as one of many tools for conducting asymmetric, proportional retaliation against its enemies. The Iranians were behind the cyber attacks against U.S. banks and the Sands, Clapper said.

Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, told a Senate hearing in March that the government of Iran, along with those of China and Russia, have been using semi-official hackers in cyber attacks.

“Each of the three use a slightly different structure,” Rogers said March 19. “But in each case, the cyber activities we have seen to date display a strong and direct linkage between the individual actors doing the actual activity and the nation state directing it.”

Rogers said one future trend could be that nation states begin using techniques to “try to confuse our attribution ability by creating different relationships.”

“For example, using other partners, trying to distance themselves in a visible way so their activity is not as directly attributable,” he said. “I think that’s a trend that we’re going to be looking for.”

Full article: Iran Rapidly Building Cyber Warfare Capabilities (Washington Free Beacon)

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