Cyber Attack Fears Rise Over Iran Conflict

John Lister's picture

Cyber analysts warn Iran may further target the US with cyber attacks as tensions rise in the Middle East. While one federal website has already been compromised for propaganda purposes, the real danger may be to infrastructure, with businesses and home users caught in the crossfire.

The most eye-catching attack this week involved the website of the Federal Depository Library Program, which was altered to show and Iranian flag and an unflattering picture of the President. However, this doesn't appear to be a particularly sophisticated breach and may well have been the work of amateur hackers. (Source:

Instead, the fear is a step up in state-backed professional attacks, several of which have already been linked to Iran. notes that these include a series of attacks designed to remotely wipe hard drives. The country has also been linked to failed attempts to disrupt computers controlling equipment at a dam. (Source:

Attackers May No Longer Hide

The big question now is whether Iran overtly targets US systems. In the past it's often tried to hide the origin of the attacks, a tactic that may have limited its capabilities. If conflict with the US steps up, it may no longer feel the need to cover its tracks so well.

One fear is that Iran could turn to cyber attacks as a form of asymmetric warfare: in other words, a way it can cause damage even though it is overpowered in traditional military strength.

US Used Own Cyber-tactics

This could be bad news for ordinary users. While such attacks are normally highly targeted, cyber attacks will often rely on spreading malware in the hope it will eventually reach users with access to work computers and networks in targeted organizations.

Cyber attacks aren't a one-way street of course. A computer virus dubbed Stuxnet that spread across Windows PCs worldwide was widely believed to be the work of the US government. The virus appeared to be specially targeted at Iranian nuclear computers, instructing it to rapidly speed up and slow down nuclear centrifuges in the hope of damaging them. In 2013, it was widely reported that the Stuxnet worm made its way to the International Space Station, infecting computers.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you fear an increase in malware and other threats because of the Iran situation? How seriously should we take the threats? Is it fair game for the US to use similar tactics, even if that might mean disrupting ordinary users?

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buzzallnight's picture

M$ is the most used software in this country.
M$ used to be an American company.
Are there any Americans working at M$ anymore?
What countries do M$ programmers owe allegiance to?
Are we just sitting ducks due to the hap hazard design of M$ products?
Is this an issue of national security?
If we started right now how long would it take to actually make M$ products secure enough to withstand enemy state malware threats?
Is it possible for M$ to make highly secure software that is distributed in some read only form?
Remember the old Commodore 64?
BASIC was written in machine language and delivered in ROM and malware was almost impossible.
Would it be possible for an only American company to just start over?

Will any of this be done before it is just too late?