Australian universities are under attack by cybercriminals, and officials were trying to determine the source of the attacks. On Thursday, the Australian government pointed to Iran. Dozens of universities were targeted as part of the attacks.
The Australian authorities are trying to protect government agencies and universities, but the cyberworld is quickly becoming a war zone littered with cyberattacks.
News reports that biggest threats are Nation-States
For those involved in protecting agencies from cyberattacks, the reality is that there are multiple threats out there. Hackers even embed information onto microchips before they are put into computers. However, the biggest threat appears to be from nation-states, with 16 attempted attacks in Australia on a daily basis.
Thirty-three universities were reportedly attacked by cyber attackers from Iran, according to Australian authorities. Hospitals have also been targeted. The government introduced a new cybersecurity defense center in the nation’s capital. A threat to microchips by Intel was identified and thwarted.
The U.S. is also keeping a close eye on Iran and suspect that a new cybercrime wave is on the horizon.
Security firm releases report demonstrating increase in Iranian attacks
For the mullahs’ regime, cyber attacks are a critical method to find and steal intellectual property that could benefit the regime and its security forces. CrowdStrike, a cyber security firm, released its 2018 Global Threat Report and noted that there are a number of investigations going on related to attacks on universities.
“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,” said Michael Sentonas, Vice President of Technology at CrowdStrike.
The benefits of hacking for the regime mean that they can attack their enemies, often with little response or limited retaliation. Those in the Iranian resistance argue that these types of attacks are part of the long-term strategy of the regime, as part of its efforts to maintain power and control in Iran.
Censorship common in Iran
While cyber attacks against other nations are part of the strategy of the Iranian government, the regime is also using that strategy against its own people. Censorship remains high, and the regime has put monitoring applications in place throughout its servers, in hopes of catching individuals who could be participating in demonstrations or rallies calling for regime change. Any perceived threat is investigated, and arrests are common.
“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,” said Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a political scientist.
The CrowdStrike report also noted that ransomware use will continue to increase. Other countries active in cyber attacks include China and Russia, both with different objectives.