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.
A HISTORY OF HACKING
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
All rights reserved. To request permission to distribute or reprint this article, please visit ForeignAffairs.com/Permissions.