President Trump ordered a cyberattack yesterday on Iranian military systems. This is interesting news for three reasons:
|1.||It avoids the media frenzy that would have erupted after a missile strike. CNN reporters would have stood next to piles of smoking rubble and interviewed wailing Iranian women about the death of their puir wee bairns. It’s harder to gin up public outrage over the disabling of a puir wee server farm.
In terms of military effectiveness, I don’t know which is preferable, the missile strike or the cyberattack. However, in terms of the Information War — which is largely what this is — the cyberattack is a better move.
|2.||This is not the response the military-industrial complex would have preferred. They don’t have much skin in cyberattacks. They want to see expensive physical assets employed so that expensive replacements must be procured by the Pentagon. They want to be able to test their weapons systems under real-life battlefield conditions. This did not meet their needs at all.|
|3.||A number of years (maybe even more than a decade) ago, it was rumored that the Israelis and the Russians had collaborated to make sure all of Iran’s military computer systems were infected by malware, so that a cyberattack could be launched by either country whenever it became necessary. I don’t remember the source for the story, but it was more credible than DEBKA.
The Russians have been enabling the Iranian nuclear program, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t make any sense, given the proximity of Iran to the southern border of Russia. However, if they’ve ensured that all the Iranian systems are reliably booby-trapped, they can make a lot of money by supplying Iran with technical expertise, and then disable everything if it becomes a threat to them.
Below are excerpts from an article in The Washington Times:
U.S. cyberattack strikes Iran’s military computers
The U.S. launched a sweeping cyberattack against the Iranian military last week in direct response to Iran’s downing of an American surveillance drone, U.S. officials told the Associated Press over the weekend, confirming that President Trump personally approved the retaliatory measures.
The response was aimed at Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the nation’s military that the White House officially labeled a terrorist organization earlier this year. The cyberattack targeted computer systems that control the Corps’ rocket and missile launchers, administration officials said.
Yahoo News first reported the strike over the weekend.
The cyberattack was presented to the president as one of several options following last week’s incident in which Iran shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz. While no Americans were abroad the aircraft, the shoot-down still added more fuel to growing military tensions between the two sides and brought Mr. Trump to the brink of ordering airstrikes against Iranian targets.
Also, here’s an article about the attack from CBS News, but I haven’t really looked at it yet.