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Iran - The Wild Wild West of Hacking

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre said it was "aware of a cyber incident affecting some UK organisations in late 2018" and that it was "working with victims and advising on mitigation measures". News agency Sky News reported that the wave of attacks were part of a larger scheme targeting key parts of the UK's national infrastructure assets.

The postal and local government networks were hit in coordinated attacks on 23 December 2018 and some banks were also compromised at the same time. What allegedly stolen were personal details belonging to thousands of employees were stolen, including the email address and mobile phone number of the Post Office chief executive.

Analysis by cybersecurity experts in the US concluded that a group named Mabna Institute which was connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was responsible for this attack. This same group conducted a similar attack on the UK parliamentary network in 2017. The Mabna Institute were indicted by the FBI in February 2018. The charges included aggravated access to computer systems, wire fraud and stealing proprietary data. It is understood the group was reorganised following those indictments, but continues to operate in a splintered form and now includes hackers from Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.

The same cybersecurity experts raised the concern and expressed their worries that the stolen data could be used to start a deeper attack e.g., influencing elections, impersonating people within that government as well, alter and disrupt communications.

Despite the analysis by cybersecurity experts in the US, the British government however, did not confirmed Iran's involvement publicly.

In February 2019 at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Iran was described by one European intelligence chief as being a major cyber threat to the West, third only in its behaviour to Russia and China.

Have you ever wonder why countries that are deemed not friendly and/or are a 'threat' to the western world are always singled out as a threat - be it militarily or in cyber space? Hmmm....

And if these countries which are not known to be technologically superior or advance as compared to developments in the western world, can launch such `attacks', they must have some technically competent and intelligent people with them. Imagine what they could have achieved if such minds and capability are put to effective use.


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