US-Iran tensions give rise to a series of cyber attacks

If the risks of military engagements between Iran and the United States seem to have receded in recent days, after the American assault ordered and then canceled by President Trump, it is in the cyber theater that the two actors seem to face today.

According to the American news agencies Reuters and AP, this weekend would have been the scene of multiple attacks carried out by both the Iranians and the Americans against the cyber infrastructures of the two countries. On the American side, it is the Iranian missile batteries, and in particular medium-range ballistic missiles like the Chinese DF3, which were allegedly targeted and rendered inoperative during the weekend. Tehran recognizes the attack, but declares that they were contained, and the availability of the missiles would not have been altered.

On the Iranian side, as is often the case, government services have been the subject of access denial attacks, but also Spear-Phishing attacks on the Outlook emails of users of these agencies. These attacks were identified and neutralized by government services, as well as companies specializing in system protection, such as FireEye.

It can, however, be noted that these attacks were, most likely, of limited, or even symbolic, scope. Indeed, there is nothing to indicate that very sensitive infrastructures, such as energy or water distribution services, have been targeted, neither on one side nor the other. Furthermore, it is known that in the case of a massive strategic offensive, social engineering techniques would be employed, much more effective than purely cyber attacks.

These reciprocal cyber attacks are therefore more an exchange of civility than real offensive actions.

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