American authorities firmly believe that Iranian hackers, likely supported by the Tehran government, were responsible for recent cyberattacks against oil and gas companies in the Persian Gulf, the Associated Press reported Friday, October 12. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in a speech Thursday night, became the first U.S. official to publicly acknowledge the computer-based assaults. He called them probably the most destructive cyberattacks the private sector has seen to date. And while Panetta did not directly link Iran to the Gulf attacks, he made it clear that the U.S. has developed advanced techniques to identify cyberattackers and is prepared to take action against them. “Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for their actions that may try to harm America,” Panetta said.