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Obama Cyberattacks on Iran Leaked to New York Times

by on March 6, 2013

This past June, The New York Times featured an article detailing an ongoing operation of national security put forth by President Obama with the help of ally Israel. The attack, known under the code name Olympic Games used a computer virus, Stuxnet, against Iran in their efforts to build up a stash of nuclear weapons. The story reveals many classified details, even though the “effort remains highly classified and parts of it continue to this day”.

The NYT article introduced many things to the public that surely the Obama Administration wished to keep top secret. The technology was said to be so crippling to a country’s infrastructure that when attacked with it, it was as devastating as being bombed. Cyberattacks are such a new weapon that engineers and scientists are still unsure of what can be done with it.  The US had never admitted to using cyber weapons and had only acknowledged the development of such tools right before the story had dropped. Obama’s exploration of the new weapon draws parrallels to that of atomic weaponry in the 50’s. The story also tells of prior attempts using cyber warfare, including trying to break down computers that run air defense systems in Lybia.

Not only does the leak put the success of this campaign in danger, but also has done damage to the relationship between the US and Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East. The article details Israel’s involvement with Olympic Games and tells of an error that allowed Stuxnet to break free and spread across the globe and quotes officials, including Vice President Biden, blaming the Israeli’s for the mistake, saying “they went too far”. The publicity of this has obviously put the trust the Israeli’s once had in the US in doubt.

The article ends by saying one of the reasons that the US was so careful about keeping cyberattacks under wraps is due to our own dependency on computers. Once our enemies realize this type of technology is available, people will surely enough target our computer infrastructures with similar attacks. The leak is being taken so seriously that the administration is aggressively perusing officials, past and present, to find its source. Do you think it was the right choice by the New York Times to release such a detailed account of what Obama and the rest of his administration are trying to accomplish with this new technology? What parts of the story do you think could have been left out?


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