US Sanctions Iran Over Cyber-Attacks on Critical Infrastructure

The United States has strongly condemned Iran for its “destabilizing and potentially escalatory” cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. In response to last year’s cyber-attack against Unitronics, an Israeli manufacturer of programmable logic controllers used in vital sectors like water infrastructure, the US has announced sanctions against six Iranian individuals.

According to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the sanctioned individuals are senior officials of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Cyber-Electronic Command (IRGC-CEC), an agency of the Iranian government. The attack, which occurred in December 2023, featured a defacement image expressing anti-Israel sentiments.

Although the attack was swiftly addressed and did not result in disruptions to critical systems, the OFAC emphasized the potentially “devastating humanitarian consequences” of unauthorized access to critical infrastructure.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, stated, “The deliberate targeting of critical infrastructure by Iranian cyber actors is an unconscionable and dangerous act.” He emphasized that the US will not tolerate such actions and will use all available tools to hold the perpetrators accountable.

This is not the first instance of Iranian cyber-attacks on US infrastructure. The IRGC-CEC has previously targeted entities like the Boston Children’s Hospital in 2021.

Among the individuals sanctioned by the US are Head of the IRGC-CEC, Hamid Reza Lashgarian, along with other senior officials. Any assets owned by these individuals in the US are now blocked, and transactions involving their property are prohibited.

Financial institutions or individuals engaging in transactions with the sanctioned entities and individuals may face criminal prosecution.

The move underscores the seriousness with which the US regards cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure and sends a clear message about its commitment to protecting national security interests. Stay tuned for further developments as the situation unfolds.

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