Google: Iranian regime-backed hackers “targeting high-value accounts in government, academia, journalism, NGOs, foreign policy, and national security.”
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is behind a large cyber-spying ring that used Google platforms to hack into the email accounts and devices of high-level individuals in media, foreign policy and national security establishment, the Times of Israel reported on Saturday.
The IRGC, the Iranian regime’s armed wing, used hackers to gather intelligence and plant malware aimed at the U.S. and Western allies, the news report suggested.
The Iranian regime-backed hackers were “targeting high-value accounts in government, academia, journalism, NGOs, foreign policy, and national security,” the technology company admitted in a statement on Friday.
The revelation comes days after Microsoft disclosed that the Iran-backed hackers had targeted U.S., European and Israeli defense companies. “The companies hacked included defense companies that support US, EU, and Israeli government partners producing military-grade radars, drone technology, satellite systems, and emergency response communication systems,” the Jerusalem Post reported earlier this week.
The Islamic Guard operates a network of terrorist groups across the Middle East and runs Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program. In 2019, former U.S. President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
The Times of Israeli reported the latest warning by Google and Microsoft:
Google warned on Friday of a surge in state-backed hackers, with a report focusing on the “notable campaigns” of a group linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The search engine giant was the second tech firm in less than a week to issue a warning about Iranian hackers, with the report coming days after Microsoft said a group targeted Israeli and American defense technology, and also warned that Iran had increased its hacks on Israel fourfold in the past year.
Google said in a blogpost on Friday that an Iranian hacking group known as APT35, or “Charming Kitten,” was carrying out malware and phishing attacks in which the target was tricked into installing software or giving out personal information.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was created after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and has an extensive intelligence apparatus as well as forces.
“This is the one of the groups we disrupted during the 2020 US election cycle for its targeting of campaign staffers,” wrote Ajax Bash, a member of the threat analysis team at Google. “For years this group has hijacked accounts, deployed malware, and used novel techniques to conduct espionage aligned with the interests of the Iranian government.”
The post warned that APT35 was targeting accounts in government, academia, journalism, NGOs, foreign policy and national security, and had been active since 2017.
The company said that APT35 used the compromised website of an unnamed British university to carry out a phishing attack by asking for individuals to confirm their credentials and security information.
Google’s warning comes amid series of reports highlighting the increased Iranian efforts to spy on the U.S. and its allies.
In July 2012, media reports disclosed that Iranian regime-sponsored hackers used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to spy on active U.S. servicemen. The Iranian hackers preyed on them by posing on social media as recruiters for defense companies.
Facebook took down “about 200 accounts run by a group of hackers in Iran as part of a cyber-spying operation that targeted mostly U.S. military personnel and people working at defense and aerospace companies,” the Reuters reported.
While the Biden administration has been negotiating the restoration of the Obama-Kerry nuclear deal, the Iranian regime has been advancing its nuclear weapons program. Even Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted earlier this week that “Iran has been using this time to advance its nuclear program in a variety of ways.”
The Biden White House, however, has not given up on its folly. It has joined hands with the Europeans to bring the Mullah regime into the fold of the Obama-era deal. “EU, US try to lure Iran back to nuclear talks as hopes fade,” the Politico reported on today.
Biden admin ‘urges’ Iran to return to the nuclear talksDONATE
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