With tensions between the U.S. and Iran in a heightened state for months now, America may have already attacked---but not on the battlefield. A Reuters report cites government sources that the U.S. carried out a cyber attack on Iran in the wake of last month's attack on a Saudi oil facility that jarred oil markets around the world. The U.S. and its allies have blamed that Saudi attack on Iran. The report says the cyber operation took place in late September and targeted Iranian propaganda. The U.S. has also been targeted by such cyber operations from other countries in the past, particularly by China.
The Pentagon, citing agency policy, declined to comment on the report. But such an operation is nothing new for the U.S., according to security analyst Ben West with Stratfor. He tells KTRH we have done this in the past with ISIS. "We know that in 2016 the U.S. was going after Islamic State fighters who were out there pushing videos, images and propaganda on social media," says West. "We're now going to see stuff very similar to that...It's going to be very difficult for Iranian propaganda outlets to communicate among each other, and to communicate with the rest of the world."
West explains that this cyber warfare often involves getting into websites and social media accounts of hostile actors and disrupting their activities or locking them out entirely. "U.S. Cyber Command---that's their job, is to have plans in place so if they need to attack a country or foreign entity, they have a plan on how to do that," says West. "The goal is deterrence---to show that we can degrade your capabilities, we can hurt you by going after your networks, your computers, and your digital communication infrastructure."