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US general issues warning over Iran’s cyber-strength

A US Air Force commander has claimed that Iran’s cyber-capabilities would have undergone a transformation since the infamous Stuxnet worm struck its uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz in 2010.

General William Shelton, head of the US Air Force Command, who oversees the Air Force’s cyber operations, said that Iran is now going to be “a force to be reckoned with” in the cyber-sphere, reports Reuters. The Islamic Republic will want to make ground on diplomatic foes such the US and Israel, who are widely believed to have been responsible for Stuxnet, as well as last year’s Flame attacks which also targeted Iran.

"The Iranian situation is difficult to talk about," Shelton said. "It's clear that the Natanz situation generated reaction by them. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the potential capabilities that they will develop over the years and the potential threat that will represent to the United States."

With international conflict increasingly manifesting itself in the cyber-world, Shelton recognised the significance of technology in espionage and gathering intelligence.

"There are things that you can get from a computer network that in the past were very hard to collect and had to be done through human sources," he said. "It has become ... a darned-near substitute for human intelligence activity."

The sophistication of modern cyber-espionage operations was exemplified in the Red October attacks that were revealed at the beginning of the week. ITProPortal spoke to the Kaspersky Lab, who discovered the network, to found out how Red October stayed undetected for over five years.