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Cyber-Threats and Cyber-Attacks against Iran

Maybe you are more or less familiar with cyber-attacks and have heard the name War; what is security and cyberspace?
19 June 2022
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 Maybe you are more or less familiar with cyber-attacks and have heard the name War; what is security and cyberspace?

Cyberwar is a type of battle in which the sides use computers and networks to wage war, and security includes measures used to preserve the networks, data, and information against domestic and foreign threats, and the set of internal human connections through computers and communications without considering the physical geography.

 In the third millennium and concurring with technological advances, especially in IT, the governments and international organizations have been faced with cybersecurity and the necessity of paying much attention to this subject. Therefore, security challenges in cyberspace could be considered the extreme extent of the modern governments’ current problems. Of course, these new virtual challenges of the contemporary time have engaged the nongovernmental players as well as the governments, and the cyberwar has targeted the new computer technologies, government machinery, financial foundations, vital infrastructures in the energy sector, transportation, and in the end national spirit and resolve.

The cyberattacks harm businesses on a daily basis. These damages knock out some businesses, and some can survive and resume their trend with difficulty. The most important dimension of today’s cyberwars is its psychological dimension. Psychological operations in cyberspace, include planned actions for transfer of information and elected indexes to foreign audiences for influencing emotions, motives, thinking power and reasoning, and finally changing modus operandi of the organizations, groups and their will.

Also it is possible that operations of data theft in cyberspace are planned to incite anxiety and psychological consternation, an example of which being the Stuxnet Worm in Iran, whose major goal was worsening psychological insecurity among the Iranian statesmen.

 Major Elements of Cyberwar:

A: Cyberwar usually occurs between the governments, with political motives behind it, but it can engage nongovernmental actors through different ways, and cause widespread security challenges for persons, commercial companies, governments and international organizations.

B: It gives a disproportionate power to lesser players in the political and economic atmosphere, and the attackers without fear of being known or even being prosecuted achieve their goals.

C: Another issue more complicating cyberspace is that there is no defined moral, values, or normative framework in this space for countering and engagement.

Most current cyberattacks against Iran:

Currently we are witnessing all types of cyberattacks. The first type of cyberwar is in infrastructure, an example of which we saw in the Stuxnet attack, during which in 2010 Iran nuclear facilities in Natanz were attacked by a malware which the security specialists know as a worm named Stuxnet; this virus was produced with US and Israel partnership to corrupt about 60 thousand computers. Social networks war and urban cyberwar are other types of cyberwar. In recent years, the extent of attacks on other important infrastructure and management sectors has dramatically increased, a few cases of which are as follows:

Attacks on Tehran Municipality’s system as the latest case in the current month which impacted most of the municipality’s operations.

Targeting the system of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in April 2022, which disrupted the online operations of the ministry.

One of the most influential attacks took place in autumn of 2021 on the fuel and gas stations system, which brought on numerous hardships for the citizens and the National Oil Company, on the national level.

The statistical Center of Iran’s website went out of reach in a cyberattack in June of 2016. This was while, several days afterwards, another attack targeted the State Real Estate registration Organization, knocking it out of service, and in that same year the personal data of around 20 million subscribers of IRancell was stolen.

 After Stuxnet, in 2012 , the Iranian oil and atomic systems came under attack, the purpose of the attack being stealing and destroying the data.

Cyberattacks on the Iranian infrastructure have continually been conducted. The hacking of the surveillance cameras of the Evin prison and the attack on the Mahan airlines’ infrastructure are other clear examples of these attacks.

A set of cyberattacks on the production structures of the industries of the ministry of defense have taken place, each causing considerable financial and software damage.

Some significant statistics on cybersecurity are as follows:

A: In 2022, the global budget for cybersecurity reached $133.7 billion.

B: 68% of the managers and leaders of businesses extremely feel the danger of cyberattacks, and 71% of the attacks occurred were of financial goals and 25% had spying motives behind them.

C: 50% of big agencies (with more than 10,000 personnel) annually spend around $ 1 million or more on their cybersecurity. 43% of them spend over $250 thousand and only 7% spend less than this figure annually.

The unemployment rate in the specialists of cybersecurity is almost zero, and there are around 500,000 cybersecurity specialists working in the world.

 

Conclusion:

Given the change of the methods of engagement it can be said that today boosting of national capabilities for countering the ambiguities, complications, and dynamics of security threats is the most important course of action to be taken for preserving the interests in cyberspace. Also, today the fate of wars is not any more determined by destructions, explosions, and operations of attrition, but disruption of command and control capacities in cyberspace can be decisive in determining the fate of confrontations. Thus, in the new wars, you cannot any more claim that victory depends on how much capital , forces, and technology  each of the sides have , but what is important is that which side has the best intelligence. Last word, of the most important tactics to prevent cyberattacks is reduction of transfer of data, cautious download, and improvement of passwords, updating the operating systems, and so on.

 Authored by Ali Beman Eghbalizarch , Eurasia Senior Expert  

(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)

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