According to internet security researchers and state government officials in the United States, following the death of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, there has been a significant increase in the incidents of attempted hacking into computer networks in the US.
The network security company Cloudflare said that there was a 50 per cent increase in the Iran-based attempts to hack federal, state and local government websites soon after the strike US drone that killed Soleimani. The company noted that the attempts have since increased further.
Cloudflare said that the hacking attempts against targets around the world that were traced back to Iranian IP addresses increased three folds over the course of 48 hours with the maximum attempts being recorded at half a billion attempts per day.
The increase was termed as being “statistically significant” by Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince during an interview to a TV news channel. And since the company possesses only a limited view of the wider internet, it is likely that the actual number of attempted hacks were much higher, he added.
“That would be very atypical to happen on its own,” Prince said of the spike. “That, I think, you can safely correlate directly to the death of the Iranian general.”
Prince said that there was also a growth in the attempted hacking from other countries in addition to the significant increase in hacking efforts by Iranian hackers. He further said that this indicated that this trend could indicate that advantage of the situation was being taken by non-Iranian hackers or their attempts were being masked by Iranian hackers to not reveal their location within Iran.
According to Cloudflare, the so-called “denial of service” attacks were reflected in some of the increase in activity. This kind of cyber attack tries to shut down a website by increasing the traffic by way of bogus activities. However the firm said that network probes, or hackers sniffing a target to assess its vulnerabilities, comprised much of the spike in the hacking efforts.
The computer systems of the state of Texas were being scanned as often as 10,000 times per minute, said a stage officials on Tuesday.
“We absolutely saw an increase in activity that needed to be blocked from Iran,” said Amanda Crawford, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources, in an interview to a TV news channel.
In separate incidents, an image of Soleimani was used to deface the websites belonging to the Texas Department of Agriculture and an Alabama veterans’ group. The message: “Hacked by Iranian hacker” accompanied the image.
“Cheesy, low budget images are a hallmark of Iranian propaganda,” said James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. “Probably ‘patriotic hackers’ going after the only vulnerable .gov site they could find. Definitely not the A team.”
Due to the increase in tensions between the US and Iran, a high alter has been asked to be maintained by businesses and infrastructure operators according to an advisory from US officials.
(Adapted from CNN.com)