US Ordered Secret Cyber-Strike on Iran: Report

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The US ordered a secret cyber-attack on Iranian IT systems in response to the alleged Tehran-backed September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, according to a new report.

Two anonymous US officials told Reuters that the attacks were targeted at Iranian hardware in an operation focused on limiting the Islamic Republic’s ability to spread propaganda.

There are few other publicly available details about the raid, although it appears to have been a much smaller-scale and less sophisticated effort than the infamous Stuxnet operation which disrupted Iran’s nuclear program almost a decade ago.

It would make sense though, given President Trump’s reluctance to get embroiled in a full-scale conflict with the country. He is reported to have called off air strikes on Iranian facilities following the June downing of a US Navy drone, for fear of escalating the stand-off.

Dave Palmer, director of technology at Darktrace, argued that nation states are increasingly turning to cyber-strikes to launch attacks on physical hardware, making it more important than ever that such infrastructure is well protected.

“We have entered a new age of cyber warfare, where sophisticated groups are using advanced software that is capable of going under the radar of traditional security controls, plants itself in the heart of critical systems and uses that knowledge to its advantage,” he said.

“Relying on human security teams will not be enough to resist attackers that are backed by nation states and therefore highly sophisticated. The only way to combat these attacks will be with AI that can automatically respond to attacks before any damage is done.”

A Tripwire study from earlier this month revealed that 93% of security professionals in transportation, manufacturing and utilities fear cyber-attacks shutting down operations, with two-thirds (66%) claiming that it could have catastrophic consequences, such as an explosion.

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