Expressing concern of a potential cyberwar triggered by Iran, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said his country is prepared to strike back in case of cyber terrorism attacks on America.
The attack on Saudi oil giant Aramco is believed to have originated from Iran and security experts think the country is both capable of, and willing to, launch sophisticated cyber-attacks. A preemptive military retaliation is also considered, although the Defense Secretary didnâ€™t give specific details.
“Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests,” Panetta said in a speech in New York City to the Business Executives for National Security.
Security experts speculate that Iran already considers itself at war with the US, since the Stuxnet incident thought to be masterminded by Israel and the US. Failure to comply with international norms regarding their nuclear program could be considered reason enough for Stuxnet to be unleashed, believes Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for the Virginia-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant.
Arguing the US should be more active in promoting lack of tolerance for cyber-attacks, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff believes that a clearer message should be sent.
“While the message has been sent over and over again it doesn’t seem to have acquired urgency across the board,” said Chertoff. “We need to make it clear that this is not just background noise you have to deal with, but that it really strikes at the fundamentals of our national security.“