It might be tempting to think that the conflict between the United States and Iran has abated for now. Tehran launched an attack on a U.S. base in Iraq after the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. President Donald Trump just gave a speech in which he stated that the regime appeared to be standing down.
These are all positive signs, but by no means does it mean that the standoff is over. In fact, recent news from Texas indicates that it could be taking a different form. On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott said that the state’s Department of Information Resources (DIR) has experienced a massive increase in cyber attacks coming from Iran this week in the wake of the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
According to ABC News, the governor explained that up to 10,000 attempted cyberattacks per minute had been launched by entities based in Iran over the last 48 hours. “These attacks from Iran-based entities, as well as other entities across the globe, are going to continue,” Abbot said. “I think it’s very important that everyone be particularly vigilant right now about what may happen out of Iran.”
DIR executive director Amanda Crawford released a statement which read:
“The Texas Department of Information Resources constantly detects and blocks malicious traffic on the networks of the multiple state agencies it services. In the past 48 hours, DIR observed an increase in network activity from outside the United States, including Iran. As global threats to cybersecurity increase, we urge Texans to be vigilant and use heightened awareness as they conduct Internet activity.”
Concerns over the possibility of Iranian cyberattacks were present long before the killing of Soleimani. Indeed, Tehran is known as one of the most dangerous players in the world of cyberwarfare. The regime recently launched a cyberattack on Saudi Arabia on Dec. 29. According to The Washington Examiner the country’s cybersecurity agency identified the type of attack as a “wiper,” which erases a target’s data.
The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a warning to U.S. companies to “consider and assess” the potential impact and threat of a cyberattack on their operations shortly after Soleimani’s killing. Abbott’s announcement came after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued a statement claiming that “the fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun.”
The threat of military hostilities may have subsided — at least for the time being — but it seems the overall fight has not yet concluded. Iran might not launch more missile attacks on the U.S. in the near future, but it is clear that they are not still a pernicious threat capable of causing significant harm.
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