Cybersecurity expert: Tensions with Iran don’t increase cyberattack risks for Americans

While individuals with access to critical infrastructure systems of any type should be vigilant in the coming weeks, most Americans are at no substantially greater risk of cyberattack related to ongoing tensions with Iran, according to a Virginia Tech expert in cybersecurity.

“Although the United States is in a period of increased tensions with Iran, all individuals should remember that the risks of cybersecurity are ever-present,” according to Virginia Tech’s Aaron Brantly.

“Despite everything transpiring between the United States and Iran, individual Americans are at no substantially greater risk than prior to the targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani,” said Brantly, an expert in terrorism and cybersecurity. “Iranian hackers have consistently targeted U.S. and global interests in recent years.”

Brantly warns that individuals with access to critical infrastructure are the most likely targets of Iranian hacking attempts.

“Iranian hackers can target individuals at these organizations at home or at work as a means of gaining access to systems,” said Brantly. “At this time, and at all times, persons in all sectors should be attentive to the receipt of emails or solicitations from unknown persons. Individuals should avoid clicking on links in emails and downloading and opening documents from unknown sources to include emails, websites or file transfer programs.”

The U.S. government lead on domestic cybersecurity concerns is the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA). CISA and its sub-organizations provide real-time awareness and protection where possible through the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).

Brantly encourages individuals interested in developing a personal cybersecurity plan to go to a project of the Citizen Lab.


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