BOSTON (Reuters) – Iranian hackers have infiltrated major airlines, energy companies, and defense firms around the globe over the past two years in a campaign that could eventually cause physical damage, according to U.S. cyber security firm Cylance.
The report comes as governments scramble to better understand the extent of Iran’s cyber capabilities, which researchers say have grown rapidly as Tehran seeks to retaliate for Western cyber attacks on its nuclear program.
“We believe that if the operation is left to continue unabated, it is only a matter of time before the team impacts the world’s physical safety,” Cylance said in an 87-page report on the hacking campaign released on Tuesday.
The California-based company said its researchers uncovered breaches affecting more than 50 entities in 16 countries, and had evidence they were committed by the same Tehran-based group that was behind a previously reported 2013 cyber attack on a U.S. Navy network.
It did not identify the companies targeted, but said they included major aerospace firms, airports and airlines, universities, energy firms, hospitals, and telecommunications operators based in the United States, Israel, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, France, England and others.
Cylance said it had evidence the hackers were Iranian, and added the scope and sophistication of the attacks suggested they had state backing.
Cylance’s research provides a new example of how governments may be using cyber technology as a tool for spying and staging attacks on rival states.
Russian and Chinese hackers have been blamed for a variety of corporate and government cyber attacks, while the United States and Israel are believed to have used a computer worm to slow development of Iran’s nuclear program.
Tehran has been investing heavily in its cyber capabilities since 2010, when its nuclear program was hit by the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to have been launched by the United States and Israel. Iran has said its nuclear program is intended for the production of civilian electricity, and denies Western accusations it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb.
Full article: Iran Hackers Target Airlines, Energy, Defense Companies (Washington Free Beacon)