State-sponsored hackers from Iran have attacked a major oil company in the Persian Gulf. New reports reveal that Iran deployed a strain of data-wiping malware on Bapco, the national oil company of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The attack occurred on December 29, but it didn’t create the damage the cybercriminals would have wanted, as it only affected a small section of the company’s computers.
Iranian hackers deploy new ZeroCleare data-wiping malware https://t.co/quA60gDBki
— ZDNet (@ZDNet) December 5, 2019
Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority first raised concerns about an imminent malware attack on Middle Eastern oil companies. The Internet watchdog informed local energy companies about imminent malware threats, advising them to take extra precautions to protect their networks. Multiple sources view the attack on Bapco as the instigator of that report.
The malware in question was found to be Dustman, a strain of malware that immediately wipes out all the data from an infected computer as soon as it is initiated. The Iranian government has a long history of carrying out cyberattacks, and Dustman is one of their latest data wiping iterations.
An Iranian Power Move Across the Middle East
It’s highly unlikely that this recent attack had anything to do with the current conflict between Iran and the United States, as Bapco was attacked just a few days before the United States killed top Iranian military chief Qasem Soleimani and set off a string of events that could very well lead to a full-blown war.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been involved in a struggle for influence in the Middle East for decades. Both countries currently symbolize the two large divisions of Islamic culture today, while other socio-economic factors have also led them to be at loggerheads.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have a majorly cordial relationship, which makes the Kingdom a fair game for Iran. So, while this attack does have little or nothing to do with the U.S. conflict, it’s still a part of a more significant issue here.
More Reasons for the U.S. to Fear an Iranian Cyber Attack
The successful implementation of this attack is also a likely harbinger of what to come in the U.S. conflict. Iran has vowed harsh retribution for Soleimani’s death, and yesterday, it launched a missile attack on the al-Asad airbase and Erbil airport in Iraq- home to hundreds of American troops. However, the fact that there were no casualties leads many to believe that this was just a misdirect.
— Bob Garrett (@RobertTGarrett) January 7, 2020
As previously reported, political analysts Kirk Materne and Ken Talanina have reasons to believe that Iran would most likely employ cyber tactics in its war with the United States. Given that the U.S. is heavily favored to prevail in a physical conflict, the analysts explained that the Middle Eastern country would tend to resort to an attacking technique that they’re familiar with- cyber attacks.
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