The Cybersecurity 202: U.S. should brace for Iran to cross red lines in cyberspace, experts warn

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The U.S. must brace for Iran to launch bold cyberattacks designed to cause major financial damage or threaten American lives as retaliation for the killing of one of its top generals, cybersecurity experts say. 

Security experts tell The Cybersecurity 202 that Iran may be willing to cross dangerous boundaries in cyberspace: For instance, they warn, Iranian hackers could launch attacks that shut down electricity for some Americans, destroy important financial records or disrupt hospital or transportation systems in ways that threaten lives.

“We’re in a more escalated situation than we’ve been in the past, and there are some serious questions about where the red lines are,” John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis for the cybersecurity company FireEye, told me. “They may not have a problem with people getting hurt at this point.”

Experts are also warning Iran could launch widespread attacks against U.S. companies that encrypt their information and hold it for ransom or target U.S. government contractors to punish them for working with the Trump White House. Or they might target U.S. allies in the Middle East or U.S. diplomatic targets abroad, as my colleagues Tony Romm, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Craig Timberg reported.

“We’re definitely in new territory,” Robert M. Lee, founder of the cybersecurity firm Dragos, which protects major industrial systems, and a former National Security Agency official, told me.

Iran has routinely tested the boundaries of what it could get away with in cyberspace, including pummeling U.S. banks after the Obama administration imposed new sanctions in 2012 and hacking control systems at a New York dam in 2013. It also allegedly wiped data from tens of thousands of computers at the Saudi state oil company Aramco in 2012 in one of the most destructive digital attacks ever launched.

Source: Washington Post

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