Iran has been developing the necessary resources for a cyberweapons attack against the United States and European infrastructure, experts said this week at the Aspen Security Forum, according to an NBC News report Friday.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly claimed, “Iran has no intention of engaging in any kind of cyberwar with the U.S.”
This information was first revealed by multiple senior U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity at the annual Aspen Security Forum.
According to NBC News, participants in the conference included Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Chris Wray, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. All of the aforementioned officials warned of the pervasive danger from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, but Coats reportedly said Russia was a “by far” the most aggressive cyber foe, surpassing both China and Iran.
However, according to Iran, the United States is the true aggressor in the cyber domain. “Iran has no intention of engaging in any kind of cyberwar with the U.S.,” Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesperson for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, charged, according to NBC News. “Frankly, from our perspective, it’s more likely the U.S. wants the supposed suspicion of an attack as rationalization for a cyber attack against Iran.”
The U.S. is the most belligerent cyber attacker of any nation in the world, repeatedly attacking military and civilian targets across the world including in Iran. The U.S. has also undermined international efforts to establish global rules surrounding cyber issues. While we cannot comment on specific cyber capabilities or operational detail, we can say that our cyber activities are defensive in nature and necessary for our country’s protection.
America’s power grid has been vulnerable to foreign attacks for years.
In December 2015, the Associated Press reported: “About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on, according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter.”
Officials discovered that month that Iranian hackers were responsible for a data break that resulted in the hacking of housing files at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In February, Foreign Policy magazine suggested that the United States is currently “laying the groundwork” for cyber warfare against North Korea.
In October 2017, a firm called FireEye found that North Korea, and actors likely affiliated with the regime, had attempted to hack American electric companies in what could be the makings of a cyber attack.
It is unclear whether recent dialogue between the United States and North Korea, following the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore last month, has changed that.
Still, the Iranian threat remains problematic.
The Trump administration has reportedly suggested that Iran is using its embassies to plan terrorist attacks.
Last month, an Iranian diplomat allegedly helped with thwarted plans to bomb the annual “Free Iran” rally and conference held by exiled Iranian opposition leaders of the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq in a Paris suburb. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the allegations “baseless” and said the plot was a “sinister false flag ploy” in a tweet.
“How convenient: Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its ‘plotters’ arrested. Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy,” Zarif wrote:
How convenient: Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its “plotters” arrested. Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 2, 2018
The Iranian diplomat was charged in Germany this month.