Hackers (illustration)
Hackers (illustration)AFP/File

The United States believes Iran is behind cyber attacks on American banks and the oil industry in the Middle East, according to CNN. One official has gone so far as to say that U.S. intelligence has observed and tracked the attacks coming from Iran. The official didn’t offer any details, however, they did say there is a strong hunch that those involved were surrogates working with the Iranian government.

"We strongly believe there is a relationship between the people typing the code and people running the government," the official said.

Another U.S. official said, "It certainly is the case that Iran is improving its capabilities in the cyber field. We're paying attention. We are concerned about their increasing ability to operate in this realm…”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a speech last week that the United States must harden its cyber defenses.

Calling it a "pre-9/11 moment," Panetta noted his concern about a particular cyber virus known as "Shamoon." The virus infected the computers of major energy firms in Saudi Arabia and Qatar this past summer, according to CNN.

In Saudi Arabia, upwards of 30,000 computers were wrecked by the attack on the state oil company ARAMCO. In Qater, Ras Gas was hit.

Meanwhile, the Iran Independent News Service (IINS) reported:

“Iran will not give in to "bullying" at the negotiating table with world powers over its disputed nuclear programme despite new economic sanctions, its supreme leader said on Tuesday…”

“The West ‘keeps saying pressure against Iran is aimed at forcing the Islamic republic to return to the negotiating table’ about the nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in remarks carried on state television.”

"’But when did we leave the table that now we need to return?’ he asked during his visit to the northeastern province of North Khorasan…Their real objective is (forcing) the Iranian nation to surrender to their bullying at the negotiating table... (but) you are too weak to bring Iran to its knees,’ said Khamenei.”