Instead of Military Strike, US Hit Iranian Computers

Sources say that Trump authorized a cyberattack on Iran's military computers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2019 5:39 AM CDT
Instead of Military Strike, US Hit Iranian Computers
In this Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, file photo, a flame burns at the Shell Deer Park oil refinery in Deer Park, Texas. Iran has increased its offensive cyberattacks against the US government and critical infrastructure as tensions have grown between the two nations, cybersecurity firms say.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

US cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran's downing of a US surveillance drone, US officials said Saturday. Two officials told the AP that the strikes were conducted with approval from Trump. A third official confirmed the broad outlines of the strike. The cyberattacks—a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions—disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers. Two of the officials said the attacks, which specifically targeted Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer system, were provided as options after Iranian forces blew up two oil tankers earlier this month. The action by US Cyber Command was a demonstration of the US' increasingly mature cyber military capabilities and its more aggressive cyber strategy under the Trump administration.

There was no immediate reaction Sunday in Iran to the US claims. In recent weeks, hackers believed to be working for the Iranian government have targeted US government agencies, as well as sectors of the economy, including finance, oil and gas, sending waves of spear-phishing emails, according to cybersecurity companies CrowdStrike and FireEye. It was not known if hackers managed to gain access to the targeted networks. "Both sides are desperate to know what the other side is thinking," said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye. The National Security Agency said in a statement on Friday that "there have been serious issues with malicious Iranian cyber actions in the past." "This is not a remote war (anymore)," said Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos Inc. "This is one where Iranians could ... bring the war home to the United States."

(More cyberattack stories.)

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