That question assumes there is no “if” just a “how” and a “when”. We cannot know about the “when”, but Iran itself said that it would strike our military and military targets, which has resulted in increased security (and traffic) at all military bases/facilities in our area.
I read a Washington Post article (sub.req.) yesterday. My interest was piqued because the article suggested that Iran would cross “the red lines” in cyberspace. Cybersecurity experts suggest the U.S. could be subjected to cyberattacks designed to cause major financial damage or threaten American lives as retaliation for the killing General Soleimani.
Iranian hackers could launch attacks that shut down electricity for some Americans, destroy important financial records or disrupt hospital or transportation systems in ways that threaten lives.
“We’re in a more escalated situation than we’ve been in the past, and there are some serious questions about where the red lines are,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis for cybersecurity company FireEye. “They may not have a problem with people getting hurt at this point.”
Experts are also warning Iran could launch widespread attacks against U.S. companies that encrypt their information and hold it for ransom or target U.S. government contractors to punish them for working with the Trump White House. Or they might target U.S. allies in the Middle East or U.S. diplomatic targets abroad.
Iran has routinely tested the boundaries of what it could get away with in cyberspace, including hitting U.S. banks after the Obama administration imposed new sanctions in 2012 and hacking control systems at a New York dam in 2013. It also allegedly wiped data from tens of thousands of computers at the Saudi state oil company Aramco in 2012 in one of the most destructive digital attacks ever launched.
Experts say (if it’s any consolation) that Iranian hackers aren’t sophisticated enough to launch an attack that could affect the whole nation; shutting off large portions of the electrical grid is not really the concern here. But they could disrupt electricity on a smaller scale, for instance, by targeting a U.S. city or portions of it. That could succeed by prompting widespread fear about a larger attack and, possibly, draw the U.S. into an even broader conflict by triggering a more dramatic response.
Brinksmanship is likely to be a complicated game. I hope both sides understand the risks, but I doubt they do.
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225|Fairfax, VA 22030
Email: Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology