Cybersecurity experts warn of attacks amid US-Iran conflict

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The United States Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about possible cyber attacks on American businesses and infrastructure from Iran.

The warning was issued amid strained relations between the U.S. and Iran after a U.S. drone strike killed Quassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, and Iran carried out retaliatory missile strikes on two military bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops.

The website for a veteran’s group in Mobile was recently hacked with a group called “Shield Iran” claiming responsibility. When you perform a Google search for the South Alabama Veterans Council, the headline for the website reads: H4ck3D IRANIAN HACKER.

ThreatAdvice, a NXTsoft Solution, is a Birmingham-based cyber security company and has detected increased traffic from the Iran area directed toward local companies and government agencies.

Phillip Brasfield, the chief operating officer of ThreatAdvice, told CBS 42 that the company’s clients include local schools, municipalities and banks. He said the increased traffic his clients have been experiencing has mostly been phishing emails.

“Everybody is worried about missiles and stuff like that, but technology is so advanced that we could, you know, we could have vulnerabilities out there for not just our computers and our businesses and stuff like that, but even our power grids,” Brasfield said. “You hear about that a little bit, but that’s a serious concern.”

Phishing emails seem ordinary and harmless but are an attempt to extract personal or confidential information from an unsuspecting victim. Phishing can also occur via text messages or phone calls. You can click here to read more about it on the Federal Trade Commission website.

According to Brasfield, employees who fail to recognize phishing emails could jeopardize the network for an entire company or government agency. He said that every employee, from top to bottom, at businesses and agencies of all sizes must educate themselves on how cyber-attacks are initiated in order to protect themselves.

“What an attacker is looking to do is: They’ll get through the low-hanging fruit within the business and from there they’ll climb into other areas of the network in ultimately shutting down your business, deleting data,” Brasfield said.

That is something Iran has been accused of previously, specifically, in the attack that wiped out the servers of a Saudia Arabian oil company. Iran was also blamed for a hack on a New York area dam in 2013 and attacks on networks of American banks and a Las Vegas casino in recent years.

Brasfield recommends continuing education for individuals, businesses and government agencies regardless of international relations.

“As a human being, you need to know what to look for because technology is here to stay and as long as you want to be on your smartphone you need to know that there’s going to be potential attacks that are coming your way,” Brasfield said.

To learn more about ThreatAdvice and the cybersecurity solutions the company offers, click here.


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