January 9, 2015
Whistleblower Suggests Governments Meet to Discuss Cyber-Attacks
It was the actions of the United States that started cyber-war as we know it today, according to National Security whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Snowden, in an interview with journalist James Bamford, said it was the Stuxnet campaign against the Iranian nuclear program that really got the cyber-attack ball rolling.
The Stuxnet attack, known to be one of the most successful cyber-attacks ever, destroyed roughly one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in 2010. It is thought the U.S. partnered with Israel to launch the attack to halt Iran’s nuclear plans.
“It actually kicked off a response, sort of retaliatory action from Iran, where they realized they had been caught unprepared. They were far behind the technological curve as compared to the United States and most other countries,” Snowden said in the interview posted on Nova.
“It is fair to say that it was the most sophisticated cyber-attack that anyone had ever seen at the time. And the fact that it was launched as part of a U.S. authorized campaign did mark a radical departure from our traditional analysis of the levels of risks we want to assume for retaliation.”
Iran retaliated two years later by attacking open commercial companies of U.S. allies, such as oil company Saudi Aramco. Iranian hackers unleashed what is known as a wiper virus on the company, erasing its computers causing business to be halted for a short time.
Snowden described it as “a Fisher Price, baby’s first hack kind of a cyber-campaign.”
“It’s not sophisticated. It’s not elegant. You just send a worm, basically a self-replicating piece of malicious software, into the targeted network.”
Snowden said it is crucial that the governments of the world figure out a way to move forward without state-sponsored digital attacks.
“We have to create international standards that say these kind of things should only ever occur when it is absolutely necessary, and that the response that the operation is tailored to be precisely restrained and proportionate to the threat faced,” Snowden said. “And that’s something that today we don’t have, and that’s why we see these problems.”
Snowden pointed out that such an agreement would benefit the U.S. because it has more to lose than any other country. He also said that countries the U.S. is not allies with may not have too many scrupples about they type of attack they launch in retaliation.
“We spend more on research and development than these other countries, so we shouldn’t be making the internet a more hostile, a more aggressive territory,” he said. “We should be cooling down the tensions, making it a more trusted environment, making it a more secure environment, making it a more reliable environment, because that’s the foundation of our economy and our future. We have to be able to rely on a safe and interconnected Internet in order to compete.”
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.