A few weeks ago, I took my five-year-old niece to T-ball practice, and couldn’t help but be reminded of the American classic 90s movie, “The Sandlot”. For those of you not familiar, the movie depicts the story of a rag-tag baseball team made up of neighborhood boys, who play for the love of the game, during one epic summer. The movie traces and interweaves the storylines of this underdog team, from Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez (the star), to his nerdy and bespectacled friend, Michael “Squints” Palledorous. The movie culminates when the boys, the undeniable underdogs, play in one of the biggest games of their lives. Regardless of the field or industry, there are always major players and the underdogs. At the Olympics, the SuperBowl, even cybersecurity. If “The Sandlot” taught me anything, it was to never count an underdog out.
In this week’s Reimagining Cyber episode, “Time to take them seriously…what’s Iran doing in cyber?” Bill Hagestad, internationally recognized cybersecurity expert, discusses his take on the major players in the global cybersecurity space, specifically Iran. When people think of cybersecurity at a global level, they don’t often think of Iran as a top tier threat actor. However, Iran has the time, patience, and passion to have a severe impact on the cybersecurity landscape, and shouldn’t be ignored, Hagestad cautions.
“One must look at it from the Persian hacker/Iranian hacker of today. They are not recognized as hackers in their own right on an international stage,” he said. “They view themselves deprecatory/evasiveness, no one will know who they are. They [also] view themselves as the true center of the Middle East. With that distinction, the hackers of Persia…want to redefine themselves with a grandiose act.”
Iran has persistence and motivation to wait and strike when least expected. Examples include the Saudi Aramco cyberattack and the attack on the US financial sector in 2013.
“One of the frustrations of Iranian clerics is they cannot access those funds [at the financial capital of the world, in London],” Hagestad says. “Think of the systems here in the U.S., they [Iran] can cripple our financial viability. They will have succeeded in a destructive way. [They think] ‘if we can’t have access to our money, we’re going to destroy your ability to help your people.’”
Hagestad goes on to remind us about the 2010 Olympic games attack, Stuxnet, where a USB drive was delivered to disrupt Iranian weapons capabilities. “This spurred in the Iranian psyche a distinct desire to have retribution. For someone to come on their soil, to disrupt their capacity, to do something they are duty bound and culturally capable of doing…” he says, trailing off.
Iran’s power, passion, and past experience have proven that they deserve to be considered a key player in the cybersecurity space. Like “The Sandlot” teaches us, you should never count an underdog out.
Listen to the full recording of this podcast, “Time to take them seriously…what’s Iran doing in cyber?”
CyberRes is a Micro Focus line of business focused on helping companies protect, detect, and evolve their security framework and helping organizations become more cyber resilient. To learn more, visit CyberRes.com and CyberResilient.com.