Stuxnet Prompts Iran to Recruit Cyber Warriors
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Iran is actively recruiting computer savvy soldiers in a effort to strengthen the nation's cyber defensive and offensive capabilities.
The initiative is largely thought to be in response to the Stuxnet virus attacks which caused severe damage to Iran's Natanz enrichment facility and reportedly set back the nation's nuclear program by as much as several years.
Stuxnet is a highly sophisticated designer-virus that wreaks havoc with SCADA systems which provide operations control for critical infrastructure and production networks, and leading theories indicate that the malware was probably produced to stifle Iran's nuclear warhead ambitions.
According to Brigadier Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, leader of Iran's Passive Defense Organization, the military is preparing “to fight our enemies with abundant power in cyberspace and Internet warfare.”
Former members of Iran's military forces confirm that there is a concerted effort to gain a cyber offensive capability.
“There are many true believers in Iran who are highly educated and very savvy with computers. Cyberwarfare is cheap, effective and doesn’t necessarily cause fatalities. It makes much more sense for not-so-wealthy nation states to build up cyber warfare capability rather than investing in missiles and warships,” said Reza Kahlili, a former member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Though experts agree that Iran does not have the ability to produce anything similar to a Stuxnet-level virus that would pose a threat to Western SCADA systems, some warn that it is only a matter of time before sophisticated cyber offensive capabilities become widespread.
“The worst news about cyber-warfare is that the proliferation of cyber weapons cannot be controlled. We will see a learning curve in the same way we saw it with conventional malware. Sooner or later, sophisticated cyber weapons will not only be in the hands of intelligence services and military units, but also in the hands of terrorists and organized crime. There is no way this can be prevented," said security expert Ralph Langner.