A cyberattack with a data-wiping malware originating in Iran hit Bahrain’s oil company Bapco in late December, ZDNet reports, citing unnamed sources.
According to the report, the attack only affected some of Bapco’s computers and the company managed to neutralize it early on.
That cyberattack took place before the spike in tensions between Iran and the United States but it highlights a path in warfare some countries, including Iran and the U.S., may choose to take as an alternative to conventional fighting.
The U.S. is already on high alert for cyberattacks coming from Iran after the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. In fact, just a day after the assassination a group claiming they had links with Iran hacked the Federal Depository Library Program. While the link with Iran is not necessarily real, the threat, according to cybersecurity experts and government officials, is real.
Iran has a substantial track record in cyberattacks, including on targets such as JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. Several Iranian hackers launched denial-of-service attacks on the banks between 2011 and 2013. Since then, cyber experts say, the country’s capabilities have only improved.
The United States is not just a bystander of this cyber warfare, either. In fact, the consensus opinion is that its cyber warfare capabilities are much more solid than Iran’s. Last year, for example, the U.S. hacked the computer systems of an Iranian paramilitary group that reportedly planned attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, as per a report in the New York Times.
It’s worth noting that Iran did not retaliate for that attack, possibly in acknowledgement of the U.S.’s superior capabilities. This, however, does not seem to be enough to make security experts and the Pentagon relax.
Perhaps Iran has the capabilities to hit U.S. critical infrastructure or another top-level target even if an actual attack is relatively unlikely anytime soon. Just this week a cybersecurity firm said it had detected a so-called password-spraying attack on U.S. power utilities and traced it back to an Iranian hacker group.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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