00111 Cyber attacks on U.S. energy firms traced back to Iran

Corporate security experts along with U.S. officials are looking into fresh cyber-attacks that have hit U.S.-based energy firms and government servers. So far all experts agree that the attacks are coming straight from Iran.

Unnamed U.S. utility companies have recently come under attack from a fresh wave of sophisticated hacking incidents. Federal officials along with Internet security groups claim the attacks are being directed at major energy producers in the U.S. for the sole purpose of causing catastrophic failure. The vast majority of the attacks are what officials refer to as 'probing', or looking for ways into the system and seize control of the operations.

On May 24th U.S. federal investigators confirmed a report from the Wall Street Journal that the source of the cyber-attacks is pointing directly at the nation of Iran. However, they cannot confirm whether the Iranian government is behind the recent attacks but they did iterate that it was hard not to suspect the Iranian government didn't commission the cyber-attacks since the Internet is so tightly regulated in Iran.

00111(2) Cyber attacks on U.S. energy firms traced back to Iran

In addition to main energy computer systems being attacked, the U.S. claims that Iran was behind numerous attacks on major financial institutions that began in the fall of 2012. At that time numerous banks were taken offline or slowed down to a crawl, which ended up costing millions of U.S. dollars in lost revenue. The difference with the bank attacks is that they were done with a commonly used and less sophisticated DDoS attack.

Thus far none of the attacks have been successful but there have been enough probes into the computer systems that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning. In 2012 a destructive computer virus hit the Saudi-based oil producer facility, Aramco. Aramco, which is the world’s largest oil producer, was compared with the recent attacks on U.S. facilities. Security experts have also confirmed that Iran was behind attacks on the Aramco oil facility, and the Qatar-based RasGas.

Most security experts agree that the recent attacks are retaliation for the economic sanctions placed on Iran.  During the past 18 months Iran has increasingly become more sophisticated in regards to their hacking skills into major energy suppliers. Many also feel that the recent hacks are also due in part to the Stuxnet virus that hit Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. Stuxnet was a joint venture by Israel and the U.S. to specifically slow down Iran’s progress with creating enriched uranium that Iran says is for 'peaceful purposes'. Both Israel and the United States say that Iran is lying about the enrichment for energy and that their real goal is to create a nuclear weapon.