Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: Here’s how Iran disrupted U.S. businesses the last time it launched major cyberattacks


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

Cyber pros are looking to history for guidance as they brace for retaliation following a U.S. cyberattack against Iran’s military command and control systems last week.

Iran has been one of the United States’ most consistent digital foes during the past decade. It’s also among the most nettlesome, with hackers targeting a broad swath of victims ranging from banks and hospitals to universities and government agencies.

Those digital strikes demonstrate patterns that might reveal how the Islamic Republic could use its hacking capabilities in an evolving tit-for-tat conflict that has included sanctions, cyber and physical attacks, and brinkmanship over Iran’s nuclear program, cyber pros told me.

First off, Iranian digital attacks are often aimed at making a big statement, Ari Schwartz, a top White House cybersecurity official during the Obama administration, told me.  

One of the country’s first major digital acts of

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