Iran has been meddling in the affairs of other nations for years. It has been responsible for one of the most serious humanitarian crises in recent times in Yemen and it has contributed to the prolonging of a very bloody war in Syria.
The Iranian ruling theocracy has a network of proxy groups and militias the whole way across the region and beyond and it has been involved in countless terrorist attacks and assassinations of political opponents.
Many have dismissed the Iran threat as insignificant, especially some EU leaders such as Federica Mogherini who seems to pass on any opportunity to criticise the mullahs’ belligerent behaviour, even despite a number of terrorist attacks and assassination plots on European soil.
U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has been acutely aware of the Iran threat from the moment he took office. He has deployed military reinforcements to make sure that the United States is prepared for anything Iran or its proxies might try.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. are on the increase and the threat to the world’s supply of oil is very credible.
The cyber threat from Iran is also very credible and one that the U.S. needs to ensure that it is fully prepared for. A number of Iranian hackers have been indicted by the Justice Department and only a matter of months ago it sanctioned Iranians participating in malign cyber activities. The intelligence community has warned about the cyber threat repeatedly and the fact that Iran is continuing to attack must not be dismissed.
To protect itself from the cyber threat, the U.S. should first share intelligence with its allies that are also Iranian targets, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. Gathering and collecting information and sharing it will be primordial in being prepared for potential future attacks.
The U.S. private sector also needs to be aware of the threat and the government should assist in helping companies prepare. There is no doubt that it is a target for Iran and the U.S. government has a responsibility to help it protect itself and to arm it with the necessary information.
The Department of Defense (DOD) recently highlighted its new policy in dealing with cyber threats, claiming that the country needs to get ahead of the threat by acting before they happen. Congress has authorised such measures in the defence of the country.
And finally, it must be made very clear to Iran that the United States will respond to any attack, cyber or other, decisively and firmly. With the recent deployment of military vessels to the Gulf, the U.S. has shown that its resolve against Iran is firm, but it needs to be emphasised that even a cyber threat will be responded to in the same way as a physical threat.
The Trump administration is making a big show of his willingness to protect the United States and its interests in the region, but none of this has any meaning if it just lets the cyber threat remain open. Not addressing the threat is failing to protect the country’s interests.