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The Daily TIP: Experts: In Wake of Renewed Sanctions, U.S. Must Prepare for Escalation of Iranian Cyber Attacks

Posted by Tip Staff - November 06, 2018

Experts: In Wake of Renewed Sanctions, U.S. Must Prepare for Escalation of Iranian Cyber Attacks
Jewish Teens Targeted by Anti-Semitic Attacks in France
Shin Bet Chief: Agency Thwarted 480 Terror Attacks During Past Year
4,000 University Students from 60 Nations Sing Together in Tel Aviv

Experts: In Wake of Renewed Sanctions, U.S. Must Prepare for Escalation of Iranian Cyber Attacks

With renewed sanctions imposed on it by the United States, Iran may be poised to increase the frequency and destructiveness of its cyber-attacks, two experts warned in a paper published Tuesday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Annie Fixler, a policy analyst at FDD, and Frank Cilluffo, the director of the McCrary Institute for Cyber & Critical Infrastructure Security at Auburn University, argue that facing an economy "whose currency is already in free fall and appears headed for a deep recession," Iran's leadership "may become a more aggressive actor both in the virtual and physical worlds." Iran previously has shown that it "will exploit deficient cyber defenses to wreak havoc on its adversaries’ networks."

In a brief overview of Iran's cyberwarfare capabilities and methods, Fixler and Cilluffo describe Iran's cyber capabilities as the "latest" addition to its "asymmetric toolkit." Specifically, they observed that Iran engages in "cyber-enabled economic warfare – a strategy involving cyber attacks against an adversary’s economic assets in order to reduce its political and military power."

Given Iran's use of cyber attacks in the past as a response to sanctions, Fixler and Ciluffo warn that with the newly-imposed sanctions threatening to destabilize Iran's economy further, and with a proven capacity to engage in "aggressive and destructive cyber and non-cyber related malign activities," Iran is a threat to ramp up its cyber attacks on U.S. targets.

To counter this threat, the authors call on the U.S. to take a series of measures to blunt the effectiveness of Iran cyber offensives. These measures include accurately assessing Iran's past cyber activities, targeting those assets that boost Iran's cyber capabilities, share information with allies to counter the Iranian threats, and announcing the U.S. will defend its allies against Iranian cyber attacks.

In their conclusion, Fixler and Cilluffo observe that "while Iran does not have the cyber capabilities of China, Russia, or North Korea, Tehran is willing to take greater risks and cause greater destruction." They call on U.S. policymakers to "begin to initiate more robust defensive initiatives with allies and the private sector, and simultaneously prepare cyber and kinetic countermeasures, Washington may well prevent a more devastating cyber battle in the future."

Jewish Teens Targeted by Anti-Semitic Attacks in France

Police in France are investigating two separate assaults on Jewish teenagers in the Paris area during the last week as possible hate crimes, The Algemeiner reported on Monday.

The first incident occurred last Tuesday in Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris with a sizable Jewish community. A young schoolgirl wearing the uniform of a Jewish school was attacked by an older man, who spoke Arabic and forcefully hit her in the back. The girl told police that the assailant pointed his finger at her and made gestures evocative of firing a gun.

In a separate incident on Wednesday in the 19th district in north-eastern Paris, a young man wearing a yarmulke was assaulted by three youths at a bus stop, who were trying to steal a wallet and computer from his bag. After they identified him as a Jew by his head covering, the perpetrators shouted anti-Semitic insults and pushed him to the ground, punching and kicking him as he fell.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Monday called for the eradication of anti-Semitism following an increase in attacks and hate crimes against Jews in several countries – including the worst ever massacre of Jews on U.S. soil in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which 11 worshippers were killed by a far-right gunman – and said it was vital to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.

“Without a living memory, there will be no future, for if the darkest pages of history do not teach us to avoid the same errors, human dignity will remain a dead letter,” the Pope said.

Shin Bet Chief: Agency Thwarted 480 Terror Attacks During Past Year

Nadav Argaman, the chief of Israel's internal security agency, Shin Bet, told a Knesset committee that his organization prevented some 480 terror attacks during 2018, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

The attacks, which were described as "substantial," included 280 planned shootings, 101 so-called "close" attacks such as car rammings and stabbings, 76 entailed the use of explosives, seven were abductions and six were intended suicide attacks.

Argaman also referenced the prevention of 590 potential "lone wolf" attacks and breaking up of 219 Hamas cells. It wasn't clear to what degree the "lone wolf" attacks intersected with the others that were prevented.

Ten Israelis were killed and 56 injured in this year's terror attacks, as compared to nine killed and 66 injured in 2017. Of the ten Israelis killed, nine of them were murdered in so-called "lone wolf" attacks. Successful "lone wolf" attacks have dropped from 108 in 2016, to 54 last year, to 25 this year.

Argaman accused the Hamas leadership in both Turkey and Gaza with making great efforts to coordinate West Bank terror attacks. He also mentioned that Lebanon was a source for similar plans, underscoring an alliance between Hezbollah and Hamas.

In an overview of the threats facing Israel from the West Bank and Gaza, Argaman assessed that the overall situation was "unstable."

"In Gaza, on one hand, we are on the verge of a conflict and on the other hand we are making efforts to stabilize the humanitarian situation,” said Argaman.

Regarding the West Bank, Argaman said, "the situation is very complex. At a superficial level, there is a relative calm, but it is deceptive and on [the feel on] the ground is very combustible.”

4,000 University Students from 60 Nations Sing Together in Tel Aviv

Four thousand college students from 60 countries gathered in Tel Aviv in October for the latest mass singalong sponsored by the social music project, Koolulam.

The event, at Ganei Yehoshua, was attended by GA 2018 participants, graduates of MASA programs, MASA CEO Liran Avisar Ben Horin, Jewish Agency Chairman Yitzchak Herzog, Government Secretary Tzahi Braverman, and Masa Chairman Ilan Cohen.

Koolulam was founded with the goal of strengthening society through mass singing events in which large groups of non-professionals come together to create a collaborative happening.

The organization gathers as many as 12,000 people at a time from a broad spectrum of Israeli life, and then films the joint singing productions to share on social media.

In June this year, Jews, Muslims and Christians joined together at the Jerusalem Tower of David Museum to sing Bob Marley’s “One Love” in three languages as a show of unity from Israel. The video of the event went viral.

(via Israel21c)

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