The head of the Iran's Civil Defense Organization has denied reports that his country has launched a series of denial-of-service attacks against U.S.-based banks. Gholam Reza Jalali told Fars News Agency (FNA), an Iranian news service, that the reports are part of a Western plot to establish justification for their own actions against Iran in cyberspace.
According to reports from a number of Western media, including NBC News, Reuters and the Chicago Tribune, a sporadic series of attacks against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup have been underway since late 2011 and have occasionally caused minor interruptions of service. NBC News claims it has spoken with national security sources who tie these attacks to the Iranian government as a reaction to economic sanctions against Iran.
According to Iran's FNA, Jalali told reporters that the news reports "are aimed at demonizing Iran in cyberspace to portray the country as a global threat to cyber security and justify the U.S. and Israeli cyber attacks on Iran."
There is currently no indication that any data has been accessed.
A number of U.S. government agencies are believed to be involved in the investigation, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA.
Iran engaged a major focus on its cyber capabilities after its centrifuges supporting nuclear research were reportedly damaged in 2010 by a Stuxnet attack that many believe was launched by either the United States or Israel. Since that time, the Tehran government has worked to enhance its capabilities in this area and has also encouraged its citizens to take whatever actions against Western institutions that they might be able to launch. Given that encouragement, experts say that it is currently difficult to determine whether the attacks against the U.S.-based banks are officially government-sponsored, or the result of ad hoc private attacks.
Jim Lewis, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, told Reuters that Iran has been testing its cyber technology against Israel and other Gulf states in recent years. According to Reuters Lewis said, "It's like the nuclear program: It isn't particularly sophisticated but it makes progress every year."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 24, 2012