Cyber sleuths responsible for Russiagate now warn of ‘Iranian hackers’

Iranian hackers are threatening US computer systems, cybersecurity firms FireEye and CrowdStrike claimed just as tensions between Washington and Tehran pulled back from the brink of war.

“Really, we’re seeing increased cyber activity that seems to be focused on the West,” Adam Meyers, vice president of Intelligence at CrowdStrike, told Politico. “In early June, mid-June is when it really started to kick off.”

Ben Read, senior cyber-espionage analyst at FireEye, confirmed the timeline and told the paper that the latest campaign is led by a government-connected Iranian hacker group known as APT33 or “Refined Kitten.”

Wired magazine carried a story on Thursday also alleging Iranian attacks, based on information from CrowdStrike and another firm, Dragos – this time targeting the US Department of Energy with phishing emails pretending to come from the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

“The Department of Energy is aware of the reports of APT33 activity and for security reasons we do not comment on current cyber activity directed at the Department’s networks,” the agency said in a statement.

CrowdStrike is the contractor that accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Federal investigators just took their word for it, never actually examining the DNC computers.

FireEye also accused Russia of trying to hack Democrats, this time during the 2018 midterms. The firm also picked Hillary Clinton – of the private email server in attic fame – as the keynote speaker at their upcoming cybersecurity conference in October.

Allegations of Iranian cyber-warfare came as almost everyone in Washington expected some form of US military action against Tehran following the shooting down of a US spy drone over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday.

A shooting war seemed to have been avoided in the nick of time, however, with President Trump saying on Friday that he changed his mind about a “disproportionate” response just minutes before the operation was underway.

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