Still licking its wounds after its humiliation in the hands of the United States over the killing of top military personnel last month, Iran has now suffered a cyber attack.
Global internet connection observer NetBlocks reported that Iran had implemented a severe shutdown of its entire Internet infrastructure to repel the effects of a cyber attack. The firm, which shows Internet freedom across the world in real-time, explained that Iran’s Internet had been partially down from 11:45 AM local time on the day, with the effects of the attack lasting a few hours.
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 9, 2020
Threat Averted, But at a Steep Cost
The Iranian government, proactive in its bid to ensure that the attack doesn’t cause much damage, swiftly implemented the DEZHFA- a “Digital Fortress” cyber defense mechanism. This implementation, as NetBlocks reported, caused Internet connectivity across the country to drop to 75 percent.
Soon after, Sadjad Bonabi, a spokesperson for Iran’s Telecommunication Infrastructure Company, explained that a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack had been launched by an unknown party, although the DEZHFA had been implemented to protect. DDoS attacks aren’t exactly new to the tech industry and have been known to take down just about any entity- businesses, humanitarian organizations, and even the Internet grids of entire nations.
For now, the identities of the attackers or their motives are largely still unknown.
An Unusual Turn of Events
It’s, however, ironic that this will be happening to Iran, considering how the threat of a cyberattack sponsored by the country against some of its rivals was considered to be a very present possibility last month. After the killing of top country general Qassem Soleimani on January 3, the country vowed to retaliate against the United States, even going as far as offering a bounty on the head of U.S. President Donald Trump for what is considered an act of war.
The immediate threat of military violence between the US and Iran seems to be diffusing, but in the current climate, Iran could use cyberattacks as part of its retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.
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— Global Observatory (@ipinstGO) January 28, 2020
However, while tensions started to rise rapidly between the two sovereign states, several who monitored the situation carefully began to dismiss the prospect of Iran launching a physical assault on the United States. Instead, they feared the threat of a cyber attack from the Middle Eastern country.
Because a physical attack will not end well for Iran and the country is much more adept with cyber attacks, the prospect of the latter being its go-to choice for an assault seemed more likely.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Mark Morrison, the Chief Information Security Officer at Chicago-based central clearinghouse Options Clearing Corp., said, “Not to be melodramatic, but every critical infrastructure sector in the United States will need to worry about an Iranian cyberattack… Historically, the Iranians have targeted certain sectors when relations with the U.S. have reached a certain point. Everyone needs to be extra-vigilant on that.”
Sadly, there hasn’t been much of a response from Iran at all. Instead, it has found itself on the back foot since then.
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