Arab coalition calls for restraint as tank battle rocks Aden

The Arab coalition has called for talks as fighting escalated in Aden on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 29 January 2018
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Arab coalition calls for restraint as tank battle rocks Aden

RIYADH/ADEN: President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on Monday that a “coup” was underway in Aden, where separatists were battling his forces for a second day.
Military sources told AFP that at least nine people were killed in heavy fighting on Monday as a tank battle broke out in Aden.
The Arab coalition, which supports the government of Hadi, called for dialogue and for it to hear the demands of the separatists in the southern port city.
“We are calling on the legitimate government to look into the demands of the political and social movement,” said coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.
He urged “restraint” from the separatists and for them to “hold talks with the legitimate government.”
Al-Maliki said the coalition’s priority was to deliver humanitarian aid and said 12 aid flights had been sent to Aden within a week to relieve the people’s suffering.
In addition, Al-Maliki said more than 19 ships were at Yemeni ports carrying humanitarian aid for the Yemeni people.
“The Yemeni people have a right to humanitarian aid and this right should not be disrupted,” Al-Maliki said.
Hadi, meanwhile, renewed his call for a cease-fire, saying “rebellion and weapons won’t achieve peace or build a state.”
“The real and the main battle is with Iranian Houthi militias and any other side problems will impact the main battle,” he said, according to Reuters. “Any assault on legitimacy is a coup.”
UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed urged all parties to return to “calm and dialogue.”
As the fighting escalated in Aden, military sources told AFP that civilians were hunkered down at homes as five separatist fighters were killed by snipers and four soldiers died in clashes with tanks and heavy artillery entering the fray.
Fighters from both sides have been deployed in most areas of Aden, paralyzed for a second day after 15 people were killed and dozens wounded on Sunday.
Universities, schools and shops stayed closed, an AFP photographer said.


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.