FBI confirms Iran’s growing cyber attacks inside US in 2020

It said Iran conducted a cyber attack against its director and created the ‘Enemies of the People’ website with threats aimed at US election officials

The FBI says it has credible information to show that Iran carried out another cyber attack in the US this month. EPA
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US authorities are pointing fingers at Iran in another cyber attack this month aimed at spreading misinformation about 2020 election results and inciting violence against senior US officials.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has concluded that Iran carried out a misinformation attack this month to incite violence against its director Chris Wray and federal and state officials who pushed back on Donald Trump's allegations about voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. Both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal confirmed the FBI findings and the bureau is expected to release its conclusions publicly soon.

"The FBI is in possession of highly credible information indicating Iranian advanced persistent threat actors were almost certainly responsible for the creation of a website, called 'Enemies of the People' containing death threats aimed at US election officials in mid-December 2020," the FBI told The Washington Post.

The effort was carried out through the Enemies of the People website and social media accounts that Iran allegedly created, and targeted Mr Wray, ousted Homeland Security Department official Christopher Krebs and nearly a dozen US officials, accusing them of treason because they “aided and abetted the fraudulent election against” Mr Trump.

The December attempt by Iran bears similarities to past cyber efforts from Tehran during the US election to sow division and doubt among the public. Before election day, US authorities accused Iran of faking emails and social media accounts that pose as the Proud Boys, a far-right group, questioning the election results.

Iran was also accused this year of carrying out cyber attacks against US entities and corporations. The US Department of Justice indicted in September two Iranian men, Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Marwan Abusrour, for hacking dozens of websites.

In October, Microsoft accused hackers backed by Iran of targeting US Presidential candidates and 100 high-profile individuals set to attend international security and policy conferences.

Microsoft said the group was known as Phosphorus and sent ransomware emails to academics, former government officials and policymakers to steal passwords and sensitive information.

US sanctions in September targeted 47 Iranian individuals and entities involved in cyber attacks. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the world’s leading threats to cybersecurity and human rights online,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time.

Iranian cyber capabilities increased their reach and targets in the US in 2020, joining Russia and China among the top foreign state threats when it comes to cyber security.