Iran’s Military Launches Increased Cyber Attacks on Obama Administration Officials

IRGC members march during a parade ceremony
IRGC members march during a parade ceremony / AP

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has in recent weeks launched increased cyber attacks on Obama administration officials, hacking into their email and social media accounts. U.S. officials believe that the hacks are related to the recent arrest of an Iranian-American businessman in Tehran.

The Wall Street Journal  reported:

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, has routinely conducted cyberwarfare against American government agencies for years. But the U.S. officials said there has been a surge in such attacks coinciding with the arrest last month of Siamak Namazi, an energy industry executive and business consultant who has pushed for stronger U.S.-Iranian economic and diplomatic ties. Obama administration personnel are among a larger group of people who have had their computer systems hacked in recent weeks, including journalists and academics, the officials said. Those attacked in the administration included officials working at the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs and its Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

An Obama administration official said that the U.S. continues to probe a possible connection to the arrest of Namazi.

"U.S. officials were among many who were targeted by recent cyberattacks" the official stated. "U.S. officials believe some of the more recent attacks may be linked to reports of detained dual citizens and others."

Officials said that the increased cyber attacks have been particularly waged on administration officials working on Iran policy.

Namazi was reportedly arrested last month during a stay in Tehran to visit his family. According to individuals close to the businessman, intelligence officers with the Revolutionary Guards seized his computer after searching his family’s home. Namazi is the fifth U.S. citizen currently in prison in Iran.

News of the increased cyber attacks comes months after Iran agreed on a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers that the Obama administration hoped would lead to more cooperation between the two countries. Namazi is himself a large supporter of the nuclear agreement.

However, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banned further agreements between Iran and the U.S. after the nuclear deal.

According to U.S. officials, Iran has amassed a group of hackers trained by Russia focusing on various targets, including banks on Wall Street and oil companies in Saudi Arabia.