The head of the US Air Force Cyber Operations General William Shelton believes Iran will be a “force to reckon with” in the coming years, having survived the 2010 Stuxnet attack that dealt a major blow to its nuclear enrichment program.
According to General Shelton, who declined to comment on Iran’s capability to attack US cyber targets, Tehran has increased its capabilities after suffering a cyber attack – an assault several security analysts have argued pointed at Israel and the US.
“The Iranian situation is difficult to talk about. 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,” Shelton told reporters.
General Shelton’s comments come as cyber attacks have increased across the world, including in Africa where some attackers have been reported to have originated from Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania.
Iran’s capability to survive attacks could be the basis of this view by General Shelton, with the last Kaspersky Lab report suggesting that Tehran had been a multiple target for cyber weapons.
Just this week, a senior Iranian commander was quoted saying that Tehran had the capability to disrupt enemy communication systems in an “electronic warfare”.
The US air force cyber operations is said to be increasing its workforce by a sixth, from its current 6,000 personnel with funding promised for cyber operations.
With the digital age already here, Shelton says that the US might in future not require any bombs to cause physical damage on its enemies but simply the “right networks” and the “right code”.
Iran’s improved defenses could be seen as more of creating a shield after a series of attacks on its banks and oil industry, though the same could be turned to capabilities against other countries. In the recent past, countries in Africa including Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have suffered attacks borne from cyber weaponry.
Just yesterday, HumanIPO reported how embassies in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been targeted in the recent past, begin the question of just how much Africa is prepared to wade of such weapons.