Iranian Backed Hackers Infiltrating U.S. Energy Companies

Current and former U.S. officials are reporting "Iran backed hackers have escalated a campaign against U.S. corporations" and have infiltrated "computer networks running energy companies."

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Iranians "were able to gain access to control-system software that could allow them to manipulate oil or gas pipelines." 

Although Iran is not the only country or entity trying to hack into U.S. systems--China has been predominant in this area--officials are especially concerned with Iran because their goal is not the acquisition of intelligence or intellectual property merely, but "sabotage." For example, the theory is that the Iranians could "manipulate the software" and use it "to delete important data or turn off key safety features such as the automatic lubrication of a generator."

And while the cyber attacks don't seem to have resulted in theft or any kind of damage yet, officials say this hacking campaign brings Iran closer to U.S.  retaliation. In fact, "the White House held a high-level meeting late last month on how to handle the Iranian cybersecurity threat."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies' cybersecurity specialist James Lewis says, "It's reached a critical level." And the U.S. doesn't have much it can do in response, "short of kinetic warfare."


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