Iranian Cyber Threat Profile

Iranian Cyber Attack Warnings

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its private sector contractors have continuously engaged in activities such as website defacement, distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks, and theft of personally identifiable information (PII), according to the Department of Homeland Security. The worry now is that in light of recent events, these actors will push the boundaries and cause major financial damage or threaten American lives, according to cyber experts quoted in The Washington Post.

Various experts said Iran could launch ransomware cyber attacks on U.S. companies or target U.S. allies in the Middle East or U.S. diplomatic targets abroad in response to the general’s killing. Another worry is a cyber attack on critical infrastructure, although Iran is said to lack the capability for a large-scale attack.

As a precaution against a possible ransomware attack, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is affiliated with Homeland Security, issued an alert to the private sector recommending a “heightened state of awareness” to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Warning that Iranian threat actors have “continuously improved their offensive cyber capabilities,” CISA recommend that IT professionals and providers take cybersecurity precautions by implementing vulnerability mitigation plans and incident preparation plans. The alert and recommendations can be found here:

Despite the warnings, one former National Security Agency official told the Washington Post that Iranian hackers aren’t sophisticated enough to launch an infrastructure attack affecting the entire nation. But they could disrupt electricity on a smaller scale, said Robert M. Lee, founder of the cybersecurity firm Dragos and a former NSA official.

“It’s really hard to do these attacks, and you shouldn’t expert to see major blackouts across the U.S. as a whole,’’ Lee told the Post. “My concern is that they’ll get a small win and we’ll overreact.’’

Here are links to several articles reporting on the situation:

CNBC: Cyberattacks are an ‘immediate’ challenge for businesses following Iran strike

Barrons: Iranian Cyberattacks Are Coming, Security Experts Warn

Washington Post: Iran can use cyberattacks against the U.S. That’s not nearly as bad as it sounds


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