NCRI - Many Australian universities have been targeted by Iranian hackers in recent months, according to cyber security firm Crowd Strike in their 2018 Global Threat Report, and these attacks are now being investigated.
Prior to the Monday release of the report, Michael Sentonas, CrowdStrike’s vice president for technology, told journalists: "There are a lot of things that are happening geopolitically that are driving a lot of attacks… Obviously Iran has a specific interest in Saudi Arabia. There's a number of diplomatic disputes. Iran, heavily embargoed, want access to a lot of intellectual property they may not necessarily be able to get. There are groups that are linked [to Iran] and are seeking for a lot of that information.”
He continued: "There's been a number of universities in Australia, over the last two to three months that have been targeted, with adversaries looking to get intellectual property that would be of benefit to certain groups and government departments in Iran. We've been directly impacted by that, and there's a number of investigations going on across the country."
This should not be surprising. Cyber attacks are a key element in the Iranian Regime’s foreign policy, national security and long-term strategic agenda, because it allows the Regime to attack its enemies while minimising retaliation.
Political scientist Dr. Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “Before the age of the internet, Tehran relied heavily on proxies, mercenaries and militias. Using indirect methods gives the ruling mullahs an advantage, and lowers the risk and cost. It helps the Iranian leaders dodge responsibility and accountability and provides them with the powerful tool of deniability on the international stage. Iran has never been held accountable when its puppets were caught attacking another nation, smuggling weapons, or violating international laws.”
So, it seems certain that the Iranian Regime’s hacking operations and cyber crimes will not stop until the Regime is stopped, meaning that the international community should support the Iranian people’s ongoing calls for regime change.
Other countries active in cyber attacks on Australia include China, which is targeting NGOs, and Russia, which is believed to be targeting the electoral system.
David Irvine, former director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and former head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) predicted the growth of such cyber disinformation campaigns, in late 2016.
The Crowd Strike report also advises that ransom ware will remain a major player for both nation-state and criminal actors.
Sentonas said: "These techniques are reused. Once they've been used once, they do get reused, and they get shared, and it adds complexity to the average organisation around the world."