A cybersecurity company in the U.S. has discovered a “highly active” espionage organization which they believe to be based in Iran.

According to Symantec, the spy group is infiltrating governmental networks in the Middle East.

The company is calling the espionage pack “Leafminer.”

Symantec says Leafminer is bullseyeing networks in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Afghanistan, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, in the areas of financial services, telecommunications, energy, transportation, and government.

That’s a lot.

Purportedly, the group has existed since early 2017, but 2018 saw a giant leap in activity.

Symantec Technical Director Vikram Thakur explains that, among all the targets, connection to Iran is a constant:

“All the target organizations, they have some kind of political discourse ongoing with Iran, and Iran is actually missing from the list themselves. … From an analytics perspective, that just adds to the fact that they’re likely to be from Iran.”

Thakur also admits there may be a connection between the hacker gang and the Iranian government, though no evidence of that has yet been unearthed.

Symantec has witnessed the espionage group attempting to hack close to 40 organizations.

One of Leafminer’s tools, “EternalBlue,” is believed to have been developed by the National Security Agency.

As reported by The Hill, groups in Iran have really stepped up its hacking game in recent years, attacking not only places in the area, but also agencies in the U.S.

While Leafminer is not a current threat to America, Thakur believes that could change:

“Some of those Middle Eastern organizations might have branches or subsidiaries in Western countries and hackers might get opportunistic. … I do believe that their targeting is going to be, if it’s not already, beyond.”

Hacking is indeed a substantial threat, as seen with Russia in the 2016 American election (covered here), and as warned against going forward with regard to national operations (discussed here).

Hopefully, the U.S. is able to better protect itself moving forward, and the Middle East is a far ways off from out-teching us.

Iran may be improving its ability to penetrate electronic security, but surely our technology reigns supreme; why, one of our very own — a computer whiz named Albert Gore — invented the internet.

 

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