While many groups linked to nation states have conducted cyber-espionage operations against other countries and their industries, a study finding that Iranian hackers had allegedly infiltrated the networks of global critical infrastructure firms has caused concern among security experts.
In a report that documents the activities of the Iranian Ajax Security Team, FireEye contends that Iran-based hacker groups are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their attacks and could mirror the evolution of elite Chinese hacking organizations to become a hacking superpower.
While FireEye stops short of making a connection between the hackers and the Iranian government, the report notes “the objectives of these groups are consistent with Iran's efforts at controlling political dissent and expanding offensive cyber capabilities.”
Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in a wooded area near the town of Karaj, north-west of the capital, Tehran. Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile programme have been killed since 2007. The regime has accused Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations.
Google said Wednesday that it has discovered and stopped a series of attempts to hack the accounts of tens of thousands of Iranian users in what the company believes is an attempt to influence the country's upcoming election.
"For almost three weeks, we have detected and disrupted multiple email-based phishing campaigns," Eric Grosse, the vice president for security engineering, wrote in a post on the company's blog.
Cyberattacks supposedly originating from China have raised alarms in recent weeks, but U.S. businesses and government agencies should worry as much about Iran and North Korea, a group of cybersecurity experts said.
China and Russia have significantly more sophisticated cyberthreat capabilities than do Iran and North Korea, but the two smaller countries are cause for concern in international cybersecurity discussions, the experts told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee last wek.