Washington News Bureau

Cyber experts warn of potential Iranian cyber attack threat

The Department of Homeland Security is warning the public about a potential cyber attack by the Iranians in retaliation for the killing of a top general last week.

“Iran maintains a robust cyber program and can execute cyber attacks against the United States,” a bulletin by the DHS said. “Iran is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States.

The DHS said right now there is no information pointing to a specific credible threat, but the U.S. is preparing for the possibility.

"A cyber attack is a bit like having a fight in a room without any lights,” Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said. “You can feel that you're being hit, but you don't know exactly who is hitting you or why."

Rotenberg said the threats can range from disinformation campaigns like the Russians are accused of doing in the 2016 presidential election to attacks to shut down our hospitals and air travel systems.

“The United States is very exposed at this point and there are many things that the Iranians can do,” Rotenberg said.

Rotenberg said the government prepares for cyber attacks on our hospital, transportation and other infrastructure systems.

"Steps have been taken by the U.S government and by the private sector over the years to harden these defenses but there is an ongoing risk,” Rotenberg said.

A part of the challenge is figuring out who carried out the attack in the first place.

Rotenberg said a third party could hack our system and try to pin it on the Iranians to escalate the conflict.

The DHS said it is working closely with local governments and the private sector in its fight against potential cyber threats.