Soon after the start of his term in office, US President Barak Obama secretly began ordering sophisticated cyber attacks on computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, The New York Times reported Friday.
The Times report is based on interviews with former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program and other experts.
The report states that the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran's nuclear program in 2010, was developed by the United States and Israel. The officials who participated in the program gave varied assessments of the extent to which the virus disrupted the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Experts have in the past estimated that the virus set back the Islamic Republic's nuclear program by 18 months to two years. However, according to the Times, some experts are skeptical, as they say that Iran's enrichment levels have recovered and the country now has enough fuel for five or more weapons.
On Monday, security experts discovered a new data-stealing virus dubbed Flame, and found that the largest number of infected machines are in Iran, followed by Israel and the Palestinian territories, then Sudan and Syria.
Experts say the virus has lurked inside thousands of computers across the Middle East for as long as five years as part of a sophisticated cyber warfare campaign.
It is the most complex piece of malicious software discovered to date, said Kaspersky Lab security senior researcher Roel Schouwenberg, whose company discovered the virus. The results of the Lab's work were made available on Monday. If the Lab's analysis is correct, Flame could be the third major cyber weapon uncovered after the Stuxnet virus, and its data-stealing cousin Duqu, named after the Star Wars villain.
A day after reports of Flame emerged, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon fueled speculation of Israeli involvement in the cyber attack when he told Army Radio that “whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat would be likely to take different steps, including these, in order to hurt them.”
Senior defense officials expressed confidence that Israel’s military networks were secure and protected from cyber attacks.
“Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. These achievements of ours open up all kinds of possibilities for us,” Ya'alon said.
Reuters and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.
Source: Jerusalem Post
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