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US fears more Iranian cyberattacks after exit from Iran deal: report

US fears more Iranian cyberattacks after exit from Iran deal: report
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Pentagon cyberwarfare analysts are worried about a new wave of Iranian cyberattacks after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE announced Tuesday that the U.S. would exit the Iran nuclear agreement.

Within 24 hours of the announcement, researchers at security firm Crowdstrike reported a "notable" shift in Iranian cyberactivity, The New York Times reported. According to the Times, Iranian hackers sent emails containing malware to diplomats in the foreign affairs offices of U.S. allies and telecommunications companies.  

“With the nuclear deal ripped up, our nation and our allies should be prepared for what we’ve seen in the past,” former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the Times.

The NSA's former general counsel, Matt Olsen, said that Iran's cyber capabilities have increased faster than analysts had predicted. Olsen said those new capabilities could soon be aimed toward U.S. targets.

“[Iran] is now among our most sophisticated nation-state adversaries," Olsen told the Times. "We can anticipate those capabilities could well be turned against the U.S.”

More than a dozen sources contacted by the Times said they expected Iran to respond to Trump's decision with a new wave of more sophisticated cyberattacks.

“Given the history of Iranian cyberactivity in response to geopolitical issues, the American energy sector has every reason to expect some type of response from Iran,” Olsen said.

“We’re probably one of the most automated technology countries in the world,” Alexander added. “We are an innovation nation and our technology is at the forefront of that innovation. We could have a very good offense, but so do they. And unfortunately, we have more to lose.”

In 2013, Iranian hackers successfully breached computers controlling the Bowman Avenue Dam in New York.  Hackers, however, were unable to disrupt the dam's operations because it was under repair and offline. Iranian hackers took credit for the breach two years later.

Trump said Tuesday that his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal was motivated by a desire to stop sending Iran "empty threats."

“Today’s action sends a critical message: the United States no longer makes empty threats,” he said at a Tuesday ceremony at the White House. "[The deal] didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will."