US-Iran Cyber Strike Marks a Military ‘Game Changer,’ Says Tech Expert

After the U.S. launched a cyber strike on Iran’s weapons systems last month, military warfare could increasingly look like a loss of connectivity — rather than a loss of life, according to a cybersecurity expert.

The attack on Iran’s security systems — used to control its rocket and missile launches — was a “game changing” event for both the cyber-security industry and “how we think about geopolitics,” Splunk’s Haiyan Song told CNBC Tuesday.

“A military action got diverted to really becoming a cyber action,” said Song.

U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly approved the cyber attack against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on June 22, days after Tehran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone.

Days before the cyberattack, Trump had called off a conventional military assault against Iran, saying that the expected loss of life — estimated to be about 150 people — would have been disproportionate to the downing of the unmanned drone.

The attack marked the latest chapter in the U.S. and Iran’s ongoing cyber operations targeting each other. Tensions have been escalating between Washington and Tehran, after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year and began a policy of “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at ending its nuclear ambitions.

Asked if she anticipated a ramping up of such cyberattacks as a means of warfare, Song, senior vice president and general manager of security markets at the multinational software company, was unequivocal.

“The short answer is absolutely,” Song said at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China. “I think this is really a new way for a lot of countries and nation states to really think about their competitiveness in the military world.”

Such forms of cyberattacks are also growing in the business world, Song noted, highlighting phishing attacks and the infiltration of cloud technology as two particular areas of disruption.

Song added that as inter-connectivity increases,  “the vengeance, the frequency and the speed and the coverage” of such attacks will only grow.

Watch: US is making ‘all the provocations’ in conflict with Iran: Mahathir

Author: Karen Gilchrist

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