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Iran suspect in cyberattack targeting Israeli shipping, financial firms

Iran has increased its cyberattacks against Israel in the past year, according to several observers.
An engineer from the Israeli company "" uses his expertise in social media commercial analysis to identify networks of fake users.

A Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm said on Tuesday that several Israeli companies sustained a cyberattack that was likely orchestrated by Iran.

ClearSky Cyber Security said that at least eight Israeli websites were targeted in a “watering hole attack.” This occurs when the actor infects a website that a specific group uses. The firm said the attack was “highly likely to be orchestrated by a nation-state actor from Iran.” A variety of financial services, shipping, logistics and other companies were targeted, according to ClearSky’s report.

“Currently, the campaign focuses on shipping and logistics companies, aligning with Iran’s focus on the sector for the past three years,” said ClearSky.

The firm scanned the websites and detected the attacks in April of this year, though some of the websites were infected as far back as May of 2022, per the report. 

Why it matters: Israel and Iran have been targeting one another with cyberattacks for years. However, there appears to have been a particularly high number of Iranian cyberattacks against Israel 2022. Israel’s National Cyber Directorate told the London-based news site Tech Monitor in February that Iranian cyberattacks on Israeli entities had doubled in the past year.

In March, the National Cyber Directorate blamed Iranian intelligence for the attack against the Israeli research institute Technion.

The directorate also said it thwarted a cyberattack on Israeli banks in April, though it was unclear who was behind this. The incident coincided with the anti-Israel Quds Day marches in Iran.

The US-based Check Point Research released a report in April that said Iranian-affiliated hackers have begun using more advanced techniques, such as sophisticated coding, to target Israeli entities.

Israel has likewise been accused of carrying out cyberattacks on Iran. In late 2021, Iranian officials blamed Israel and the United States for an attack on fuel stations in the country.

Know more: Albania severed ties with Iran last September after blaming Iran for a cyberattack against Albanian state infrastructure. Iran condemned the move.

Editor's note: this article was updated on May 24, 2023 to clarify when the websites sustained cyberattacks. 

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