WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. officials said Monday recent cyberattacks on American banks and oil companies have been traced to hackers with direct links to Iran's government.
Officials speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity said the perpetrators of the cyberattacks are working closely with the government of Iran.
"We strongly believe there is a relationship between the people typing the code and people running the government," one 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," another U.S. intelligence official told CNN.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week warned state actors are escalating their cyberattack attempts and said the U.S. government must take advantage of this "pre-9/11 moment" to increase security and avoid devastating attacks.
Iran has denied involvement in the attacks on oil industry targets. Mehdi Ahkavan Bahabadi, director of the Iran Cyberspace Center, has said one of the "main aims" of the U.S. government is to "make itself look like the victim."
James A. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an essay Friday on ForeignPolicy.com that the United States is "ill-prepared" to deal with Iran's new cyber abilities.
The New York Times reported the recent cyber attacks were relatively crude hacking efforts involving "denial of service" incidents.