Fallout Ploy

Iran's Cyberwarfare Contingency Plan

Members of the Iranian army pray while attending Friday prayers in Tehran April 17, 2009. Raheb Homavandi / Reuters

Iran’s cyberwarriors are back in action. Late last fall, The New York Times reported that Iranian hackers had carried out an extensive hack on U.S. State Department employees. Among the victims were U.S. diplomats working on the Middle East and on Iran specifically, who had their email compromised and their social media accounts infiltrated. The hack was the latest in what U.S. officials say are increasingly aggressive attempts to glean information about U.S. policies toward Iran in the wake of this summer’s P5+1 nuclear deal

Iranian cyberwarfare is not new, of course. The past several years saw numerous and increasingly capable Iranian cyberattacks on Western and allied interests. Such strikes have receded in severity, frequency, and prominence as Iranian nuclear diplomacy has accelerated, culminating with the nuclear deal concluded in Vienna in July. Yet behind the scenes, Tehran has been quietly investing in the strength and capabilities of its cyber army.


In the summer of 2012, Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant, ARAMCO, was hit by the Shamoon virus, which infected three-quarters of the firm's computers. The attack was traced back to Iran. Between September of 2012 and January of 2013, an array of U.S. financial institutions (including Citigroup, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase) likewise experienced a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that disrupted their websites' functionality. Washington linked the DDoS attacks to the Iranian government, due to their sophistication.

Similarly, hackers, presumed to be Iranian, hit the U.S. Navy’s unclassified computer network in October 2013, through which they accessed the service’s broader network and potentially compromised email and other secure communications. Then, in February 2014, the Sands Corporation, owned by gambling magnate and pro-Israel philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, experienced a computer attack that temporarily crippled its systems. Last year, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. intelligence community had determined the hack had been carried out by Iran. The attack

Loading, please wait...

Most Read Articles

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.