Houthis and Saleh forces clash in Sanaa, at least 2 dead

A supporter of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh holds his photo during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP)
Updated 27 August 2017
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Houthis and Saleh forces clash in Sanaa, at least 2 dead

SANAA: At least two people were killed on Saturday when supporters of Yemen’s ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh clashed with Houthi fighters in Sanaa, marking unprecedented violence within the alliance fighting a Saudi-led coalition.
Members of the presidential guard exchanged gunfire with thae Houthi fighters who had tried to set up a security checkpoint near the home of Saleh’s son and his media office in an upscale district, residents said.
Intermittent fighting continued for several hours, cutting off access to a main road in the Hadda neighborhood, they said.
The Houthi-controlled state news agency SABA said two members of popular committees were killed in the violence. Media reports of more casualties on both sides could not immediately be confirmed.
The tactical alliance between Saleh and the Houthis has often appeared fragile, with both groups suspicious of each other’s ultimate motives and sharing little ideological ground.
Saleh rallied thousands of supporters in Sanaa on Thursday in a show of force a day after Houthi fighters decried him as “evil” and condemned his description of them as a “militia.”
Both sides jointly run northern Yemen and have been fighting the internationally recognized government, based in the south and backed by the Saudi-led coalition, for 2-1/2 years.
The coalition intervened in the civil war in 2015 to restore the government to power in Sanaa. But the conflict, which has killed at least 10,000 people, is in stalemate.
Big switches of loyalty are a feature of Yemen’s byzantine political landscape, particularly since 2011 “Arab Spring” unrest which led to Saleh’s fall in 2012.
 


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.