The American government sent an internal warning to federal agencies on Friday disclosing a rise “in malicious cyber activity” by Iranian regime hackers who are threatening sensitive computer systems, according to a copy of the warning obtained by the Free Beacon.
“The US Government has confirmed a recent rise in malicious cyber activity directed at US industries and government agencies by Iranian regime actors and proxies,” an e-mail sent to employees of the Environmental Protection Agency reads. “Rising tensions between the US and Islamic Republic of Iran has resulted in targeted cyber campaigns that use destructive ‘wiper’ attacks. These attacks are designed to delete and wipe data rather than the more common ransomware tactics of stealing data or money.”
The hack attacks come as tensions between the U.S. and Iran hit a boiling point following Tehran’s downing of an American drone in the Persian Gulf region. While Iran has always attempted to hack American systems, the government-wide warning could signify the Islamic Republic is becoming more emboldened on the cyber front.
“The ‘wiper’ attacks can be carried out through spear phishing, password spraying and credential stuffing. What initially appears as an account compromise and data loss, can quickly turn into the entire network being compromised or destroyed,” according to the government warning.
“The Environmental Protection Agency, which sent out a warning to its employees, is working with the Department of Homeland Security and other Intelligence and Cybersecurity communities to obtain and share information and to identify ways to protect EPA,” the e-mail states.
The U.S. also has conducted cyber espionage operations against Iran with varying degrees of success. Following President Donald Trump’s decision to abort a military strike on Iranian targets as payback for the drone incident, the U.S. reportedly launched a series of cyber attacks on Iran, which the country’s military leaders claimed had been thwarted.
Government agencies have warned employees to be aware of the threats and take appropriate precautions.