Iran is gearing up for a cyberwar campaign after being hit with coordinated, sophisticated cyberattacks last year that reportedly crippled its Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.
The Islamic Republic plans “to fight our enemies with abundant power in cyberspace and Internet warfare,” according to Brigadier Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, who leads the country’s Passive Defense Organization. Part of the plan involves actively recruiting hackers, who will likely earn top toman (Iranian currency) for their work.
And there may be a rich talent pool for recruiting: Millions of Iran’s youth are blogging and using social networking sites, slipping around government censors. And some believe it wouldn’t take much to turn some of those computer-savvy youth into hackers. “There are many true believers in Iran who are highly educated and very savvy with computers,” said Reza Kahlili, a former member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
“Cyberwarfare is cheap, effective and doesn’t necessarily cause fatalities. It makes much more sense for not-so-wealthy nation states to build up cyber warfare capability rather than investing in missiles and warships,” said Kahlili.
Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, tells Fox, “I don’t know much about Iranian cyberwarfare capabilities, but I do know that the North Koreans are cyber-savvy.
“We will see a learning curve in the same way we saw it with conventional malware. Sooner or later, sophisticated cyber weapons will not only be in the hands of intelligence services and military units, but also in the hands of terrorists and organized crime. There is no way this can be prevented.”