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Technology Cyberattack concerns move to the fore amid escalating tension with Iran

00:01  07 january  2020
00:01  07 january  2020 Source:   cnet.com

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Increasing tensions between the US and Iran have led experts to warn of Iran 's ability to carry out The situation intensified when the US bombed several sites in response to a rocket attack that killed an What Iran 's next move will look like is anyone's guess. Experts on the region have cautioned

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Military strikes starting in late December in Baghdad have led to protests in Iraq, and escalated tensions between Iran and the US. They've also led cybersecurity experts to warn Iran could choose a cyberattack to retaliate against the US.

a screen shot of a computer keyboard: Increasing tensions between the US and Iran have led experts to warn of Iran's ability to carry out cyberattacks. Getty Images© Provided by CNET Increasing tensions between the US and Iran have led experts to warn of Iran's ability to carry out cyberattacks. Getty Images

The situation intensified in late December, when the US bombed several sites in response to a rocket attack that killed an American civilian contractor at an Iraqi military base. The US strikes killed 25 members of a militia and prompted a storming of the US embassy compound in Baghdad. The tension increased on Thursday, when a US airstrike on Baghdad's main airport killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran's government has vowed to strike back.

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Iran and the US engaged in a bilateral cyber -warfare, instead of shooting at each other as the tensions between the two nations escalated last week, US media reports According to the two companies, CrowdStrike and FireEye, Iran launched waves of phishing emails at targets in the US in recent weeks.

The US launched a cyberattack against Iran in late June that successfully disrupted the ability of Iran 's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to attack oil tankers, according to a New York Times report based on discussions with "It was an option to move us away from conventional strikes," Valeriano added.

What Iran's next move will look like is anyone's guess. Experts on the region have cautioned cyberattacks are one potential option, pointing to previous online efforts by Iran. Government hackers have hit a wide range of targets, including a small municipal dam and Sands Casino Corp., run by conservative mogul Sheldon Adelson, according to the US government. Cyberattacks typically are military-led operations designed to cause damage to infrastructure, finances and morale.

a screen shot of a computer keyboard: Increasing tensions between the US and Iran have led experts to warn of Iran's ability to carry out cyberattacks.© Getty Images

Increasing tensions between the US and Iran have led experts to warn of Iran's ability to carry out cyberattacks.

People in charge of cybersecurity of essential systems, such as the electrical grid, financial networks, and internet and phone infrastructure, should already be prepared for serious cyberattacks, says Rosa Smothers, a former CIA technical intelligence officer who now works for cybersecurity training firm KnowBe4. "Critical infrastructure must remain vigilant," Smothers said.

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Cyber - attacks , information warfare, fake news - exactly 10 years ago Estonia was one of the first countries to come under attack from this modern form of hybrid warfare. The decision sparked outrage in Russian-language media and Russian speakers took to the streets.

On Saturday, vandals hacked into a website run by the US Government Publishing Office and posted an image in support of Iran. The US Critical Infrastructure and Security Agency, known as CISA, said hackers were able to take advantage of a misconfiguration of the site's content management system to deface the site. CISA added that it hadn't identified the hackers as working for the Iranian government.

"We are aware the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) website was defaced with pro-Iranian, anti-US messaging," a CISA spokesperson said. "At this time, there is no confirmation that this was the action of Iranian state-sponsored actors."

The CISA spokesperson also encouraged organizations to "increase monitoring, back up your systems, implement multi factor authentication, and have an incident response plan at the ready."

Here are some of the cyberattacks attributed to Iran.

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AS tensions escalate over the seizure of a British oil tanker, spy chiefs believe Iran may give the green light to proxy fighters to unleash attacks if open warfare erupts. Iran -backed terrorist sleeper cells ‘preparing to strike’ UK amid escalating tensions over seizure of British oil tanker.

Cyber security experts said the malware could spread through computers with unpatched versions of Microsoft Windows. They have urged users to only Six NHS Trusts were still affected 24 hours after the attack amid concerns that their networks were left vulnerable because they were using outdated

Banks and a dam

Seven Iranian hackers targeted the US financial system and a municipal dam in a campaign that lasted from 2011 to 2013, according to a 2016 indicment from the US Department of Justice.

The attacks on US banks left commercial banking websites unavailable for customers. A hacker also gained access to a flood control system at a dam in Rye Brook, NY. The dam was offline at the time of the intrusion, so the attacker didn't gain control over the mechanism.

US officials suspected as early as 2012 that Iranian hackers were behind the attacks, saying they were likely in retaliation for financial sanctions imposed by the US and other countries against Iran, according to The Washington Post.

A major casino corporation

In 2014, Iranian hackers disrupted computers at Las Vegas Sand, a casino company owned by Sheldon Adelson that controls the Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas, James Clapper, who was the Director of National Intelligence at the time, said in 2015.

The attack reportedly left the Venetian in chaos. It came after a year after Adelson publicly suggested the US drop a nuclear bomb on Iran.

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Spying and stealing

Iranian government-affiliated hackers have also used hacking skills to spy on the US and steal intellectual property. While considered cyberattacks, these operations show the range of state-sponsored hacking in Iran.

In 2018, the US government indicted a group of nine Iranian hackers working for the Mabna Institute for stealing intellectual property from hundreds of universities around the world, including 144 in the US. The theft was often done on behalf of Iranian military and government clients, the US Department of Justice said in its indictment. The theft involved $3.4 billion worth of research from US universities.

An alleged Iranian espionage campaign used Facebook to target members of the US intelligence community. Using information passed to them by Monica Witt, a former member of the US Air Force, Iranian spies created fake accounts and attempted to trick Witt's former co-workers into downloading malicious software that would let spies access their computers.

'The world is watching': Trump tweets in support of Iran protests .
"We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage," President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday."The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people," Trump tweeted in English and Farsi. "There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching.

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