Has the Iran-Saudi Cyberwar already started?

Tasnim News Agency reported May 26 that two Saudi statistical websites were hacked just one day after Iran’s statistics center was hacked. According to the article, no one had taken responsibility for the hacking, but some social media users speculated that the attacks on the Saudi statistical websites were revenge attacks for the hacking of Iranian statistical websites.

In a special report May 25 headlined “Saudi Arabia’s cyberwar against Iran, what is Iran’s cyber army’s response?” Tasnim wrote that the hacker group Da۳s also put an image of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iran’s statistical website, concluding that the hackers therefore are likely linked to Baathists or takfiri groups. Tasnim reported that Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads a military unit in charge of combating sabotage, had warned that Saudi Arabia intended to conduct cyberattacks against Iran, though few paid attention to his warnings. Jalali said cyberattacks will be the prime threat to Iran’s security this year.

Tasnim wrote that the attack on Iran’s statistical center can be considered the “first bullet in the beginning of a cyberwar.” However, this may not have been the first bullet. According to US officials, Iran was behind the cyberattack on Saudi Aramco in 2012. In 2015, Saudi Arabia’s Oil Ministry website was hacked by a group claiming to be Iranians.

Iran itself has been the victim of cyberattacks. The United States was behind an attack on Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz, using a computer worm called Stuxnet, unique for its ability to cause physical damage.

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