The Iranian Cyber-threat

Amid reports of Russian hackers influencing elections, Chinese hackers pilfering state secrets, and North Korea launching ransomware attacks and attacking cryptocurrency exchanges, it would be easy to underestimate Iran’s potential as a cyber-threat to the US.

On one hand, most analyses describe the Middle Eastern republic’s offensive cyber-capabilities as fractured, decentralised, and inferior to those of the US, Russia, and China. On the other hand, Iran’s cyber-forces are known to be persistent and opportunistic, and have become adept at infecting sloppy organisations whose employees and IT professionals don’t follow recommended security practices.

“Tehran’s operations against foreign interests have been mostly espionage and sabotage campaigns against soft targets,” asserts the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in the think tank’s January 2018 white paper, “Iran’s Cyber Threat: Espionage, Sabotage, and Revenge.” But when necessary, Iran will also strategically engage in disruptive and destructive attacks, as a retaliatory strike against its perceived enemies, the report

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