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Iran might now resume cyber attacks on USA institutions


WHEN THE US last tightened its sanctions against Iran in 2012, then-president Barack Obama boasted that they were “virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt.” Iran fired back with one of the broadest series of cyberattacks ever to target the US, bombarding practically every major American bank with months of intermittent distributed denial of service attacks that pummeled their websites with junk traffic, knocking them offline. Three years later, the Obama administration lifted many of those sanctions in exchange for Iran’s promise to halt its nuclear development; Tehran has since mostly restrained its state-sponsored online attacks against Western targets.

Now, with little more than a word from President Trump, that détente appears to have ended. And with it, the lull in Iranian cyberattacks on the West may be coming to an end, too.

Cutting Swords

President Trump announced Tuesday that he would unilaterally withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration in 2015, and impose new sanctions against the country within 90 days. Since then, foreign policy watchers have warned that the move would isolate the US, risk further destabilizing the Middle East, and invite another nuclear rogue nation into the world. But for those who have followed the last decade of digital conflicts around the globe, the unraveling of the Iran deal reignites not only the country’s nuclear threat, but also the threat of its highly aggressive hackers—now with years more development and training that have only honed their offensive tactics.

“They’ve developed this ability over the last years and there’s no reason for them not to use it now,” says Levi Gundert, an Iran-focused analyst at private intelligence firm Recorded Future. “They want to try to induce other countries to think about repercussions before levying sanctions, and they have a real capability in the cyber domain.”

……… since the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has largely restricted its hacking to its own neighborhood, repeatedly hitting its longtime rival Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations with cyberattacks but limiting its attacks on Western targets to mere cyberespionage, not actual disruptive operations.

……… Iran’s abrupt entrance into the digital arms race came in 2012, when state-sponsored Iranian hackers calling themselves the Cutting Sword of Justice used a piece of malware called Shamoon to overwrite the files of 30,000 machines on the network of energy company Saudi Aramco with a file that displayed the image of a burning American flag. A similar malware infection struck Qatari gas firm RasGas soon after. The attacks, which temporarily paralyzed the IT operations of one of the world’s largest oil companies, is widely seen as retaliation for Stuxnet, the NSA- and Israeli-created malware that was unleashed against the Natanz Iranian nuclear facility in 2010 to destroy its enrichment centrifuges.   ………

Iran may have quietly grown into a serious threat to any enemy nation that it can reach via the internet. And now that the last three years of tense peace appears to be ending, its list of fair-game targets may once again include the United States, too.

Iran Attacks



May 11, 2018 - Posted by | Iran, weapons and war

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