nsa headquarters
Headquarters of the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland.US DoD

The US National Security Agency (NSA) believes the suspected cyber attacks by the US on Iran have helped the Middle Eastern country develop sophisticated cyber capabilities, according to documents revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

An NSA document published by The Intercept shows that cyber attacks on Iran might have helped the nation develop new cyber tactics and strategies.

The document was prepared for a meeting between the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in 2013 in light of Iran's continuous cyber attacks against numerous US financial institutions.

The document noted that "these attacks are in retaliation to Western activities against Iran's nuclear sector and that senior officials in the Iranian government are aware of these attacks."

Iran suffered from sophisticated cyber attacks in 2012, primarily targeting its nuclear and oil sector. The US and Israel are thought to be behind most of the attacks.

"NSA expects Iran will continue this series of attacks, which it views as successful, while striving for increased effectiveness by adapting its tactics and techniques to circumvent victim migration attempts," the document says.

"Iran, having been a victim of a similar cyberattack against its own oil industry in April 2012, has demonstrated a clear ability to learn from the capabilities and actions of others."

The NSA mentions Iran's major cyber attack against oil company Saudi Aramco in 2012 that led to the destruction of data on tens of thousands of computers.

"While NSA has no indications at this time that Iran plans to conduct such an attack against a US or UK target, we cannot rule out the possibility of such an attack, especially in the face of increased international pressure on the regime," it adds.