Cyber warfare between the US and Iran has begun

Digital forensics specialists report that the U.S. government has begun a cyberattack campaign against military systems and a cyber espionage network from Iran, after an American military drone was shot down by Iranian agents.

President Trump’s administration ordered the attack on Iran in retaliation for the incident with the drone, however, shortly after the U.S. government suspended cyberattacks and opted to impose more economic sanctions on the Asian country. Nevertheless, specialists claim Trump secretly authorized U.S. Cyber Command to deploy the cyberattacks.

The goal of these attacks is to disable computer systems that control Iranian rockets, missile launchers and other military systems, says a U.S. Army official who has requested to remain anonymous. According to digital forensics specialists, the U.S. would have to attack the institution known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a unit allegedly responsible for the attack against two oil tanks recently reported.

As a precautionary measure, Iran has begun disconnecting some of the most critical areas of its IT systems from the Internet; this measure began to be applied after the emergence of the Stuxnet malware, allegedly developed by specialists from the United States and Israel.

It is believed that hacker groups have recently been working with the Iranian government to launch cyberattacks against intelligence agencies in the U.S., mainly phishing campaigns. According to digital forensics specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), the campaign would have begun shortly after Donald Trump decided to impose sanctions on Israel’s petrochemical industry. “Both governments are desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the other”, said John Hultquist, head of intelligence analysis at security firm FireEye.

Tension between the two countries escalated after the U.S. abandoned an international agreement to curb Iranian nuclear developments. Now, the Trump administration’s strategy is to impose severe economic sanctions to cut Iran’s funds and impact its economy. The White House is expected to announce new economic sanctions against Iran this week.