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Not too long ago, several Iranian steel factories were the target of a major cyber-attack. It is a rarity that cyber-attacks cause damage in the physical world, so a cyber-attack causing plant machinery to spew molten steel and fire is an extremely rare occurrence. Despite orchestrating this highly dangerous attack, it appears that these hackers wanted to ensure that no employees were harmed during it and made sure that the factory floor was empty before they launched their attack. This breach is even more complicated than initially thought.
A hacking group by the name of ‘Predatory Sparrow’ has admitted to being responsible for the attack and even released CCTV footage of the incident to confirm their claims. The group stated that this attack and others were in response to certain acts of aggression carried out by the Iranian government. According to Malwarebytes.com, the following weeks Predatory Sparrow allegedly leaked secret documents, emails and trading practices from the steel makers it attacked.
Due to the severity of the attack and the measures ‘Predatory Sparrow’ took to ensure no lives were lost leads many to believe that this group is not a cybercrime collective but a state-sponsored hacking group that are obligated to assess risks prior to any operation.
“They claim themselves to be a group of hacktivists, but given their sophistication, and their high impact, we believe that the group is either operated, or sponsored by, a nation state,” says Itay Cohen, head of cyber research at Check Point Software. Iran has been the victim of a spate of recent cyber-attacks that have had an impact in the real world but nothing as serious as this. As the public office of the Iranian National Cyberspace Center confirmed the attacks, they emphasized these incidents were instigated by “foreign enemies”, presumably of the Iranian government.
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