Sunday, June 09, 2013

Iran implicated in "Cyberattacks" with no evidence, and no attribution--New York Times and Vanity Fair

Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger have found a way to implicate Iran in the current discussion on cyber-surveillance. In the New York Times yesterday ("U.S. Helps Allies Trying to Battle Iranian Hacker" June 8, 2013), in the series of Sanger attacks on Iran appearing virtually every Saturday--perhaps to avoid close scrutiny.

Shanker and Sanger attribute an attack on Aramco facilities to Iran using unattributed soures:

"But deterring cyberattacks is a far more complex problem, and American officials concede that this effort, which will include providing computer hardware and software and training to allies, is an experiment. It has been propelled by two high-profile attacks in the past year. One was against Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s largest, state-run oil producer, and according to American officials it was carried out by Iran. That attack crippled 30,000 computers but did not succeed in halting production." [the other was purportedly launched by North Korea--shades of the Axis of Evil]

A more nuanced, but still inaccurate picture arises in Michael Joseph Gross' article "Silent War" in the July 2013 issue of Vanity Fair

Gross writes:

"The data on three-quarters of the machines on the main computer network of Saudi Aramco had been destroyed. Hackers who identified themselves as Islamic and called themselves the Cutting Sword of Justice executed a full wipe of the hard drives of 30,000 Aramco personal computers. . . .

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, as forensic analysts began work in Dhahran, U.S. officials half a world away gathered in the White House Situation Room, where heads of agencies speculated about who had attacked Aramco and why, and what the attackers might do next. Cutting Sword claimed that it acted in revenge for the Saudi government’s support of “crimes and atrocities” in countries such as Bahrain and Syria. But officials gathered at the White House could not help wondering if the attack was payback from Iran, using America’s Saudi ally as a proxy, for the ongoing program of cyber-warfare waged by the U.S. and Israel, and probably other Western governments, against the Iranian nuclear program."

So we see from Gross' account that the perpetrators of this attack did not identify themselves as Iranian, but the United States "officials" were ready to be "wondering" if Iran had some kind of "proxy" to carry out the attack.

Both articles continue to imply that Iran has done things for which no one has any evidence or proof. It is Claude Rains in Cassablanca--"round up the usual suspects," and Iran is ALWAYS the usual suspect.