Iran-linked cyber warriors prepared to strike U.S. if Trump discontinues nuclear deal

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Iranian hackers, called “kittens” for their original lack of capability, are poised to strike U.S. infrastructure if President Donald Trump decertifies and then removes the country from the so-called “nuclear deal.”

The cyber-warriors’ objectives would be espionage, subversion, sabotage and even coercion, experts note.

Iran has steadily improved its cyber capabilities since 2011, becoming a global threat along with China, Russia and North Korea.

Improvements in capabilities include launching successful denial of service (DDoS) attacks and the probing of networks for critical infrastructure facilities.

Since the nuclear deal — officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — Iran’s cyber activities directed at the U.S. have ebbed. But experts suggest cyber activity would be dramatically increased if Trump scraps the deal.

“The Iranians don’t want the nuclear deal to go away, and so that is the thing that shapes their behavior to the U.S. If we did cancel the nuclear deal, I think in some ways that would take the leash off when it comes to cyber actions. But ever since the deal was put in place, they have been very cautious about doing anything, because it is not in their interests to have sanctions re-imposed,” said James Lewis, Senior Vice President and Program Director, Center for Strategic and International Studies. [source]

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