Tracking Iran’s cyberterrorism
The leading state sponsor of terror is extending its malign presence online, with Saudi Arabia among its main targets. Iran’s growing digital prowess is part of its “soft war” strategy to spy on adversaries and spread its rhetoric.
“Iran is increasingly active and a growing cyber threat, though it isn’t the most sophisticated actor,” Michael Eisenstadt, Kahn fellow and director of the military and security studies program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News. “But as past Russian hacking efforts in the US have shown, you don’t need to be technologically sophisticated to hack and then leak emails, causing embarrassment to adversaries.”
In recent months, cybersecurity firms and tech companies have exposed attacks linked to faceless enemies in Iran.
“Cyber holds a certain appeal” for the country, Eisenstadt said. “Because of the difficulty attributing responsibility for cyber-attacks, it provides Tehran with a degree of deniability,” he said. “Perhaps most importantly, it allows Iran to strike its adversaries globally, instantaneously and on a sustained basis, and to achieve strategic effects in ways it can’t in the physical domain.”
Iran’s greatest adversaries are the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia “in that order,” Eisenstadt said. “In March 2018, the US government designated an Iranian entity, the Mabna Institute, and nine individuals associated with the institute, for operating a massive hacking and cyberspying operation that targeted hundreds of universities and companies in dozens of countries to steal proprietary data and academic research, presumably to help Iran’s own research and development efforts, to circumvent sanctions, and to compensate for its economic isolation. These activities had been going on for years.”
Read More: Arab News
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