Report: U.S. Behind Cyber-Attacks on Iran (Advanced ESL Lesson Plan)

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Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Advanced

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Warm-up (Pair Work)

1) Has a computer virus ever caused problems for you?
2) What steps do you take to protect your data and privacy?
3) Have you been following the conflict with Iran? What are the issues?
4) Do all countries have a right to possess nuclear weapons?

Report: U.S. Behind Flame & Cyber-Attacks in Middle East (June, 2012)

A new report written by New York Times reporter David Sanger has accused the Bush and Obama administrations of employing cyberwarfare. Sanger’s accusation is based on interviews with American, Israeli, and European officials over the past 18 months. Allegedly, the first initiative carried out by the Bush administration was codenamed Olympic Games. Its result was a worm that targeted Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility Natanz. The worm, designed by American and Israeli experts, infected controllers of the facility’s centrifuges (delicate machines which spin at supersonic speeds used to purify uranium). One of Sanger’s inside sources boasted that the brilliance of the worm was that it sent signals from compromised controllers to the control room indicating everything was operating normally. Meanwhile, centrifuges wobbled and destructed. In total, nearly 1,000 centrifuges were taken down. However, due to a programming oversight, the worm later spread worldwide when an Iranian engineer connected his computer to the Internet. To the chagrin of the U.S, the code was soon revealed. It became known as Stuxnet in 2010. Experts who analyzed the code accused the U.S. of designing the worm. The U.S. remained tight-lipped and did not comment.
Another worm, Flame, is now wreaking havoc. Unlike Stuxnet which took down sites, flame was designed to steal classified information and record audio and camera activity. Iran appears to be the central target, although other machines in the Middle East including those in Syria, and Sudan have been impacted. It has been in operation since 2010. Experts who have dissected the code claim its sophistication and size indicate it was created by the U.S. National Security Agency.
According to officials interviewed by Sanger, Obama was acutely aware that the U.S. was pushing into uncharted territory with its clandestine cyberwarfare operations. However, when it came to stopping Iran, he argued that the U.S. lacked a better alternative.
Iran has reportedly created its own cyberunit, although there has been scant evidence it has attempted to retaliate so far. (325 words)

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Follow-Up Questions

1)     In the context of the article, what is Olympic Games?
2)     How was the code revealed?
3)     True or False: The U.S. has admitted involvement in Stuxnet.
4)     How is Flame different from Stuxnet?
5)     True or False: Evidence suggests that a large-scale cyber attack from Iran is looming.
6)     Your opinion: Do you believe the U.S.’s measures against Iran are justified?

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
compromise (verb)
wobble (verb)
wreak havoc (phr. verb)
dissect (verb)
  • initiative – a new plan for dealing with a problem
  • worm – a malicious computer program that replicates itself
  • compromise – expose or make vulnerable to danger, suspicion, etc.
  • wobble – move from side to side in an unsteady way
  • oversight – a mistake made because you did not notice sth
  • chagrin – a feeling of being disappointed or annoyed
  • tight-lipped – not willing to talk about sth
  • wreak havoc – ruin to damage sth
  • classified – officially secret and only available to certain people
  • dissect – study the parts inside sth closely
  • acutely – noticing or feeling sth very strongly.
  • clandestine – secret
  • scant – hardly any; not much

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
initiative / classified
worm / wreak havoc
security / compromise
wobble / bicycle
oversight / revealed
To my chagrin / failed
dissect / human
acutely / aware
tight-lipped / clandestine
scant / concern

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Brainstorm (Pair Work)

What kind of disruptions could cyber-attacks cause? Brainstorm possible scenarios with a partner and then present your list to the class.

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): BLACK OUT! (Role-play – Pair Work)

Situation: A worm has taken down the national electrical power grid. The entire country is covered in darkness. Mobile phones, however, are still functioning. Role-play the below 3 scenarios with a partner.
Student A
You are on your way to visit your friend who is a nurse. You are in his/her building’s elevator when the lights go out. You are stuck between floors. There is a pregnant woman in the elevator and her water has just broke. Call your friend and get advice on what to do.
Student B
You are a nurse. Your friend is coming to visit your apartment. Soon, he/she will phone you.
Student A
You are walking with your friend (Student B) on the street. Both of you are in desperate need of money and you think the black out is a great opportunity. Try to convince your friend to commit a crime (e.g. a robbery at a bank) with you.
Student B
You are walking with your friend (Student A) on the street. Both of you a very poor. There is a citywide blackout. Your friend says he/she has an idea.
Student A
You are your country’s president. You are relaxing on the beach in Hawaii, half-drunk. Your phone will soon ring.
Student B
You are the national security advisor to the president. A nationwide black out has happened and is causing massive problems. People are looting; cities are on fire, etc. Call the president (Student A) and get instruction on how to manage the situation.

Cyberwarfare Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Questions

1)     Do you think your government involved in cyberwarfare?
2)     Cyber-Terrorism: Were the attacks mentioned in the article acts of terrorism?
3)     What’s your opinion of Barack Obama?
4)     Are wars carried out by computers or unmanned aircraft too casual?
5)     Are you a supporter of Israel?
6)     Can a cyber-attack be considered an act of war?
7)     Should a document like the Geneva Convention be drafted to regulate cyberwarfare?


Cyberwarfare ESL Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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