In 2010, the United States allegedly let Stuxnet loose on Iran. It is a malicious computer worm, or cyberweapon, that ended up causing quite substantial damage to the Iranian regime’s nuclear program. The attack resulted in a number of centrifuges failing at its main enrichment facility in the country.
The Iranian regime did not let the attack lie and it launched retaliation attacks on a number of American financial institutions such as Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
At the time of the Stuxnet attack, many experts and analysts claimed that Iran’s cyber capabilities are significantly inferior compared to the likes of the United States, China and Russia. However, the tide has completely changed and Iran is growing increasingly capable.
U.S. President Donald Trump has cracked down hard on Iran and some of his critics believe that he is trying to force the United States into a war. If this is the case, it is thought that Trump may play the cyberattack card to persuade the sceptics that war is the only option in protecting U.S. national security.
This is what the Bush administration did 16 years ago with the Iraq war.
Whatever happens in this regard, it cannot be ignored that Iran is becoming increasingly sophisticated in several different areas including its ballistic missile and space program. Although it had two failed satellite launches in January and February this year, it is continuing to work on its program.
And it also cannot be ignored that there is the potential of a war in the region being unintentionally initiated. One of the U.S. government’s biggest software contractors, Citrix, was hacked by the Iran-linked Iridium hacking group. This may be the start of a serious escalation in cyberattacks that Iran launches and it will be responsible for a further disintegration in relations between Iran and the United States.
The Iranian regime’s hackers may also have the capability of gaining useful insight into government defence operations and this is of course something that the Department of Homeland Security cannot underestimate. This really is a threat to national security.
The Iranian regime is running out of options because it is under intense domestic pressure and substantial international pressure. The economic pressure that is being exerted by the United States is taking further options away. This is concerning.
The Iranian regime is already known to be fairly unpredictable and it is this pressure that could force the regime into further unpredictable actions.
Regime change is what the people of Iran want and it is the solution that would bring immediate relief to most in the region and beyond. It is very clear that the regime is not capable of reform or moderation and the international community should not just sit around waiting for something to force it into action.