Iranian Hackers Attack State Dept. Officials Through Social Media

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

American officials and private security groups say they see a surge in sophisticated cyberespionage by Iran with a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials. The New York Times reports that the latest information on the cyberattacks comes just four months after a historic accord with Tehran to limit its atomic ambitions.

Though Iran’s cyberskills are not yet comparable to those of Russia or China, American officials have concluded that cyberespionage “is becoming a tool to obtain the influence that many in Iran hoped the nuclear program would give the country,” the Times reports.

The newspaper says the Iranian hackers were able to get into the email and social media accounts of State Department officials who solely deal with issues in Iran and the Middle East.

According to law enforcement officials, they were only made aware of the attack after Facebook notified the victims that “state-sponsored hackers had compromised their accounts.”

“It was very carefully designed and showed the degree to which they understood which of our staff was working on Iran issues now that the nuclear deal is done,” said one senior American official who requested anonymity. “It was subtle.”

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence said that he was expecting Iranians to become more “aggressive” in cyberespionage because they know it’s “less likely to prompt a response from the United States.”

However, Clapper also noted that he does not believe the Iranian hackers are planning a massive attack that “could threaten their ability to reap the financial rewards of complying with the nuclear accord,” The Times reports.

Originally Published on

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