Stuxnet and it’s offspring has wreaked havoc with Iranian ambitions to build nuclear weapons. From being used as a spying tool and data miner to physically damaging equipment, Stuxnet et al, has really been a huge success for the US and Israel. It makes one wonder, what is next? What will be the next big cyber weapon and who will create it?
Well, it could be Russia or even Iran, but could it be a joint Russian/ Iranian creation?
Yes, I believe so, and this is why.
The Russian bear has been flexing it’s muscles again. The most recent news is that Russian attack helicopters could be on the way to Syria. Sure, this is not Iran, and Russia has sold military equipment to Syria before, but with the current turmoil in Syria and the call for Western intervention, it shows that Russia still has a strong interest in the area.
But Russian equipment is not the only asset at play here. In April, Russian Security Council head Viktor Ozerov stated that Russia has a plan to move troops through Georgia and intercede in Iran if US and/or Israel forces invade. And Russia’s former ambassador to the NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, warned that an attack on Iran would be a threat to Russian national security:
“Iran is our neighbor,” Rogozin said. “If Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.” Rogozin now is the deputy Russian prime minister and is regarded as anti-Western. He oversees Russia’s defense sector.
I believe that Georgia is the key here. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 over their breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia used a combination of electronic and kinetic attacks in the conflict. And many believe that with Putin at the reigns in Russia again, attacking Georgia again could be at the top of his list.
If Russia does send troops into Iran, Georgia would be in a key position to stop or hinder Russian supply lines:
The Russians believe that Georgia would cooperate with the United States in blocking any supplies from reaching Military Base 102, which now is supplied primarily by air. Right now, Georgia blocks the only land transportation route through which Russian military supplies could travel.
Russia has very advanced cyber capabilities, and they have shared military hardware and tech with middle east nations before. It is not a big leap to think that they could and would share cyber warfare technology with these nations. Especially if they rely on these nations for energy reserves and these nations are being threatened by US and Israeli forces.
And according to the Jerusalem Post, Iran invested a billion dollars in creating and staffing a cyber warfare unit in response to the Stuxnet and Duqu attacks. And have planned attacking US targets including nuclear power plants.
As Israel and the US worked together to build Stuxnet to stop Iranian nuclear ambitions in lieu of a physical attack. It is not out of the realm of speculation that Russia and Iran could work together to create the next Stuxnet.