It didn’t take a long time that the first attack on a U.S. government website hit on Saturday. After a day of Qassem Suleimani’s killing in Baghdad on January 3. The fact that there was an attack is not a surprise—speculation has been rife. Hackers claiming to be linked to Iran has targeted a low-level domain—the website of the Federal Depository Library Program—defacing its home page and also echoing Tehran’s threats of vengeance alongside imagery of President Trump, Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian flag as well. There is nothing substantive to link the hackers with the regime in Tehran too.
The FDLP website was shut down soon after the attack—but evidence of the ‘Iranian’ hack remained there whenever searching for the domain. U.S. law enforcement has been investigating and has emphasised the lack of clear attribution too.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that it was aware of the FDLP website was defaced “with pro-Iranian, anti-US messaging,” further adding that “at this time, there is no confirmation this was the action of Iranian state-sponsored actors.”
”As I commented on January 4, Iran is a credible cyber player but its decision now is whether to unleash its most potent cyber weapons on tier-one U.S. targets—critical infrastructure, government sites, military targets—risking a catastrophic response from the much more capable U.S. cyber arsenal. Just as in the physical domain, there will be significant debate in Tehran as to just how far to push as this point. Despite the rhetoric and the unfurling of a highly symbolic red flag of vengeance over the Jamkaran Mosque, the strategists will be taking a more cautious approach,” he added.
The real question although, remains—will Iran take the strategic political route and military logic and raise the stakes, deploying a seriously damaging cyber attack on a U.S. energy grid, healthcare, core services? Or will it target Saudi Arabia or Israel? Despite the headlines have suggested such an attack may come, experts, think it otherwise—it would prompt a devastating response.