As if the story of Stuxnet was not interesting enough already, a report last week from Isssource.com places a shadowy cloak and dagger spin to it. Reportedly, anonymous US Officials claimed that Iran’s Stuxnet infection was a targeted attack by Israeli backed Iran double agents:
“They said using a person on the ground would greatly increase the probability of computer infection, as opposed to passively waiting for the software to spread through the computer facility. “Iranian double agents” would have helped to target the most vulnerable spots in the system.”
According to the report the double agents connected the infected USB drives and once the associated icon was activated, the virus spread rapidly through the network infecting all of the systems, but only activating when it found the target devices.
Apparently the Iran double agents were part of a violent group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK):
“Former and senior U.S. officials believe nuclear spies belonged to the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which Israel uses to do targeted killings of Iranian nationals, they said. “The MEK is being used as the assassination arm of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service,” said Vince Cannistraro, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism. He said the MEK is in charge of executing “the motor attacks on Iranian targets chosen by Israel. They go to Israel for training, and Israel pays them.” Other former agency officials confirmed this.”
If this is true, then the same group could have also been responsible for the assassinations and bombings that targeted Iranian scientists and heads of the nuclear enrichment program. It would also explain why Iran began arresting what it claimed were “Nuclear Spies” after Stuxnet was discovered.
The ISSSource article is full of interesting quotes from current and former US officials and intelligence agents, and not just about Stuxnet. According to one official the US had infiltrated a lot of Soviet military equipment in the 1980’s:
“We put in bugs inside the Soviet computers to feed back satellite information that had been ‘leeched’ off hard drives, in the Soviet Defense Ministry and others,” said a former U.S. intelligence official.
And claimed that prior to the start of Desert Storm the CIA and British GCHQ released a flood of viruses against Iraq’s command and control, but unfortunately the infected machines were destroyed by kinetic attacks before they could take full effect:
“Once in place, NSA and GCHQ believed the virus would spread like a virulent cancer through the Iraqi Command and Control system, infecting every computer system it came across. But before the virus had reached its target, the air war began. U.S. planes destroyed Saddam’s command and control network, including the buildings where the infected computer hardware had been so successfully inserted. As a result, one of the most successful intelligence operations of the war was buried beneath the rubble. “The intelligence people were very pissed — all that work for nothing,” said a former senior DoD official.”
If it is true, this is very interesting indeed. And it seems to follow the pattern that we have mentioned before on cyber war – that for this type of warfare to be successful, cyber attacks will be used alongside physical attacks.