The United States started the global trend of destructive cyber attacks against other countries by hacking a nuclear facility in Iran, according to US whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In an upcoming interview with the PBS television network, Snowden said the US was the first to use malware by using the Stuxnet virus against an Iranian nuclear facility in 2007 and 2008.
Snowden, who is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum, is a former agent at the CIA and NSA who leaked thousands of classified documents about US surveillance programs starting in June 2013.
“It is important to highlight that we really started this trend in many ways when we launched the Stuxnet campaign against the Iranian nuclear program,” Snowden said, according to a PBS transcript posted on Thursday.
“It is fair to say that it was the most sophisticated cyber attack that anyone had ever seen at the time,” Snowden said from a hotel room in Moscow. “And the fact that it was launched as part of a US authorized campaign did mark a radical departure from our traditional analysis of the levels of risks we want to assume for retaliation.”
Stuxnet is a computer worm that was reportedly developed by the US and Israel during the US administration of President George Bush.
Experts believe that Stuxnet required the largest and costliest development effort in malware history, although it failed to cause significant damage to Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Classified documents obtained by Snowden has revealed that American intelligence agencies have found and even created technical vulnerabilities that allow US spies to gather intelligence from phone calls, emails and other communications both in the US and around the world.