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Cybersecurity Firm Identifies “Wave” of Iranian Hacking Attacks Against Saudi Arabia, Israel

An Israeli cybersecurity firm released a report on Iranian hacking efforts primarily targeting Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Yemen, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

The Israeli ClearSky cybersecurity company said it has discovered an ongoing wave of cyber attacks originating from Iran on targets in Israel and the Middle East. The goal is “espionage or other nation-state interests,” the firm said. …

Company officials said that the targets outside Israel included the finance minister of a Middle Eastern country, Qatar’s embassy in Britain, journalists and human rights activists, according to Israel Radio. …

The authors said “several characteristics of the attacks have led us to the conclusion that an Iranian threat actor is the likely culprit.” They said they assume, but do not have direct evidence, that the hacking campaign is either being supported by the Iranian regime or performed by the regime itself: “The context of the attacks and cover stories all revolve around Iran,” the report noted. “The attackers speak and write in native Iranian Persian and make mistakes characteristic of Persian speakers. In one of the hacked accounts, when retrieved, the interface language had been changed to Persian.”

According the report, 44 percent of these attacks targeted sites in Saudi Arabia, 14 percent sites in Israel, and 11 percent in Yemen. The targeted sites included those involved in counter-terrorism, diplomacy, international relations, and physics. Journalists and human rights activists were also targeted.

According to ClearSky, this wave of attacks, which has been going on since at least last year, is “the toughest one they have encountered in terms of duration and persistence.”

Dr. Thamar E. Gindin, a professor specializing in Iranian linguistics and pre-Islamic Iran at the University of Haifa, who was one of the targets of the cyber attacks, assisted with the investigation.

Last year an American cybersecurity firm documented Iranian hacking attacks targeting transportation networks, including airlines and airports in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

[Photo: Hayden Curtis / Flickr ]