Soldiers among seven killed in Iraq violence

Updated 04 October 2013
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Soldiers among seven killed in Iraq violence

BAGHDAD: Attacks in Iraq, including two suicide bombings, killed three soldiers and four civilians on Friday, security and medical officials said.
In Anbar province, west of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near an army checkpoint at an entrance to the town of Heet at about 7:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), killing three soldiers and wounding five.
Militants frequently carry out attacks against security forces and other government employees.
While the mostly Sunni Anbar province was home to militant strongholds in past years, it has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, with most of the latest violence seen in Baghdad and several northern provinces, which are more confessionally and ethnically mixed.
Another suicide bomber blew up a vehicle near a police checkpoint in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding seven, while a roadside bomb near the home of a Shiite family in Diyala province’s capital Baquba killed one person and wounded two.
Members of Iraq’s Shiite majority are frequently targeted by Sunni militants, who consider them apostates.
Violence has reached a level unseen since 2008, and there are fears Iraq may relapse into the kind of intense Sunni-Shiite bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.
With the latest violence, more than 60 people have been killed in attacks so far this month, and over 4,750 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.