A new study on Iran’s cyber warfare capabilities has revealed that Tehran is rapidly increasing its ability to carry out professional-grade cyber attacks and has done so even while negotiating with the P5+1 World Powers about its nuclear weapons program.
The study, conducted by Norse, a cybersecurity company, in collaboration with the American Enterprise Institute, demonstrates that Iran has proven its cyber warriors can operate at a high level of sophistication.
“Cyber gives them a usable weapon, in ways nuclear technology does not,” Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) told The New York Times. “And it has a degree of plausible deniability that is attractive to many countries,” he added. Kagan warned that the suspension of sanctions against Iran would provide the Ayatollah’s regime with extra cash to dump into its cyber capabilities.
The Norse report documents specific examples where the Iranians have carried out effective cyber attacks over the past couple years. In February 2014, Iran carried out such an attack against Sands corporation, a casino operation owned by Republican mega-donor and pro-Israel stalwart Sheldon Adelson. The cyberattack resulted in the destruction of Sands-owned computers.
Norse and AEI are set to release the full report on Friday.
Other cyber security firms have documented the rise of the Iranian cyber program. In December 2014, cybersecurity company Cylance found that Iranian hackers had breached the networks that control much of the United States’ critical infrastructure.
“We discovered over 50 victims in our investigation, distributed around the globe,” read the Cylance report. “Ten of the victims are headquartered in the US and include a major airline, a medical university, an energy company specializing in natural gas production, an automobile manufacturer, a large defense contractor, and a major military installation.”
The firm’s report warned that the hackers may have stolen information about America’s oil, gas, electric, and transit networks. The Iranian hackers also successfully breached an airport security network that “achieved complete access to airport gates and their security control systems, potentially allowing them to spoof gate credentials,” Cylance revealed.