We're one step closer to an all-out cyberwar. For a decade Russia, China, the U.S. and various state-sponsored hacker groups have been poking at each other's digital defenses.
Four years ago, the Stuxnet virus, allegedly a creation of the U.S. and Israel, managed to invade Iran's nuclear enrichment center control systems and sabotage the centrifuges. Since then, several other worms have popped up that appear to be targeted at one country or another.
The latest discovery, dubbed Regin, has been active since 2008 and attacks Internet service providers and other critical Internet companies worldwide. Experts think it was created by the U.S., China or Israel.
However, that all pales in comparison to the latest security news about an Iranian hacker group.
The group is called Tarh Andishan, which roughly means "thinkers" or "innovators" in English. Over the last two years, it used a combination of typical hacker tools and some custom software to break into at least 50 organizations worldwide. Security experts have dubbed the attack "Operation Cleaver."
According to security firm Cylance, "Ten of these victims are headquartered in the US and include a major airline, a medical university, an energy company specializing in natural gas production, an automobile manufacturer, a large defense contractor, and a major military installation."
Other companies hit were based in Canada, China, England, France, Germany, India, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. So, it's a huge operation.
Cylance estimates the group is made up of at least 20 people and probably come mostly from Iranian colleges. They likely had support from the Iranian government as well.
With the information the group gathered, they could sabotage major energy and transportation hubs around the world. In South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, they got total access to airport computers, which gave them security control and full information on travelers.
With the information they stole from the U.S., they can probably upgrade Iran's weapons, know where to target infrastructure attacks, get into our financial system and maybe even target U.S. students for bribes or blackmail.