U.S. officials are preparing for the possibility that Iran will attempt a large-scale cyberattack in retaliation for a drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, a top general in the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard, who many thought would be the country’s next leader, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Both military officials and security experts say there is a precedent for being concerned, after years of back-and-forth cyberattacks between the United States and Iran.
In June, right after the U.S. sent more troops to the Middle East and more sanctions were announced against Iran, the country retaliated with increased cyberattacks on government agencies and institutions.
Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), recently tweeted that people should be wary of these attacks and pay attention to how they work, especially when it comes to infrastructure. He reminded people of a warning he gave earlier in the year.
“CISA is aware of a recent rise in malicious cyberactivity directed at United States industries and government agencies by Iranian regime actors and proxies. We will continue to work with our intelligence community and cybersecurity partners to monitor Iranian cyberactivity, share information and take steps to keep America and our allies safe,” Krebs said.
“Iranian regime actors and proxies are increasingly using destructive ‘wiper’ attacks, looking to do much more than just steal data and money,” the statement continued. “These efforts are often enabled through common tactics like spear-phishing, password spraying and credential stuffing. What might start as an account compromise, where you think you might just lose data, can quickly become a situation where you’ve lost your whole network.”
Iranians have attacked companies, universities, industrial systems and banks, among other things. They have also targeted the president and other government officials, as well as journalists. The U.S. has attacked Iran’s nuclear capabilities and its computer systems.