WASHINGTON – Federal intelligence agencies say the next attack against the U.S. could happen in cyber space.
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent an intelligence bulletin to law enforcement throughout the country.
According to the network security company Cloudflare, Iran-based attempts to hack federal, state and local government websites jumped 50 percent and then continued to accelerate after a U.S. drone strike killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
“It’s not an act of war because we’re not crossing over with troops. We’re just trying to break into their computers, take stuff down, gather intelligence steal intellectual property,” said Bryan Seely, a Washington-based cyber security expert. “We have a lot to lose here.”
Seely said hackers will go after vulnerable spots to gain access to money, credit card information, patents, intelligence and infrastructure.
“They might be trying to break in and disrupt power grids or supply chains or company infrastructure, or they’re just going after whatever is available and using that as a launching point,” said Seely. “The hackers can scan thousands, if not millions, of things all at the same time from one work station so you don’t need a million people trying to break into a million machines. You just need one.”
He said start protecting yourself by following the rules, setting up two-factor authentication and changing your password often.
“There’s no such thing as free money, no one is giving you a free iPad, they want you to click on stuff and they’ll tell you whatever they can,” said Seely. “No, millions of beautiful women in Russia are not dying to meet you. They don’t know you exist. It’s a scam.”
Federal intelligence officials warn Iran has a history of making assassination attempts and contingency planning for lethal attacks in the U.S.
“The NSA, the United States government, has the best hackers on the planet, bar none,” said Seely. “We’ve got most of the tech companies here. We’ve written most of the software. The people who are the best at this are here, and they’re doing a really good job of keeping us safe from those particular threats.”
U.S. cyber security personnel have been told to immediately flag any known Iranian indicators of compromise and tactics.