Is the US - Iran Cyber War Over?

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Washington and Tehran have come to an understanding on nuclear weapons. The international agreement reached recently on Iran’s nuclear program may stall the country’s aspirations to build The Bomb. But US officials and cyber security experts aren’t betting that Iran will give up its pursuit of another strategic arsenal: cyber weapons, which the country has been rapidly acquiring and using against US targets. And the American cyber espionage campaign against Iran experts and officials expect to continue.

Recently the Obama administration prepared its latest offer to lift some economic sanctions on Iran as part of the tentative nuclear deal, the White House issued a new executive order that allows the United States to sanction countries and individuals who conduct cyber operations that pose a “significant threat” to national security. One provision of the order, which covers threats to “economic health or financial stability,” looks deliberately tailored to Iran, which US intelligence officials blame for a series of massive denial-of-service attacks that shut down the websites of American banks in 2012.
Sanctionable offenses include “causing a significant disruption to the availability of a computer or network of computers.” As an example, the White House listed denial-of-service attacks. And the day he issued the order, President Obama wrote in a blog post for Medium that “Iranian hackers have targeted American banks” and said the US government needed new tools “to go after bad actors” who are beyond the reach of US law enforcement or whose governments won’t stop them.
A former US intelligence officer who worked on cyber operations told The Daily Beast that the United States was putting Iran on notice, that while the nuclear negotiations may have borne fruit, the US was still ready to punish Iran anew over its aggressive cyber programs, which include espionage targeting US energy companies. “As a country, we’re saying, “Enough, we’re not going to tolerate it,’” the former official said.
US officials have been eager to publicly blame Iran for some of the most damaging cyber attacks in the United States in recent memory. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that Iran was responsible for an attack on the Sands casino company in 2014, in which intruders stole and destroyed data from the company’s computers. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, Clapper put that attack in the same category as North Korea’s assault on Sony, which prompted retaliatory cyber strikes from the United States, as well as a new round of sanctions on individuals and companies in the Hermit Kingdom.
A second former senior US intelligence official who maintains close ties to current leaders said the last thing spy agencies will do now is decrease the amount of intelligence-gathering against Iran. He said, that intelligence gathering is central to verifying whether Iran is living up to its end of the deal. And, he said, those close to Clapper are speculating that he may actually want to collect more intelligence on Iran.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khameini, who must give his blessing to any final deal, has exhorted Iranian students, whom he calls “cyber war agents,” to prepare for battle against Iran’s enemies in cyberspace.
Some analysts think that by launching cyber operations against the United States, Iran was trying to send a message that it wouldn’t be bullied at the nuclear negotiation table and that, regardless of how those talks turned out, cyberspace was a new territory that Iran wouldn’t cede.
Daily Beast: http://thebea.st/1FhaNHu

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