The U.S. Charges Iranian Hackers Over Cyberattacks

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A grand jury in the Southern District of New York has indicted seven Iranian who were employed by two Iran-based computer companies that performed work on behalf of the Iranian Government.

The U.S. has charged 7 Iranian hackers over cyber-attacks on American banks and a dam in Rye Brook, New York.

Fred Kaplan, Slate's War Stories columnist and the author of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War (Simon & Schuster, 2016), and Ellen Nakashima, a national security reporter for The Washington Post, talk about the hackers.

For one, Kaplan doesn't see the point of these lawsuits. No one's going to get dragged through the courts, he pointed out. And it doesn't really act as a deterrent. "This kind of thing happens hundreds of times a day, so I'm really not quite sure what the point of this is."

Nakashima acknowledged that point, but said we'll have to wait to see if this has any impact on dampening cyberterror efforts.

Kaplan also said the U.S. is not solely a victim here. We hack into other countries' infrastructure, military systems, and more. So engaging in these acts could be seen as hypocritical - and could potentially escalate a cyberwar.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino dropped in for a few minutes to react to the cyberattack on the dam in Westchester. 

"In the grand scheme of things, it's kinda inconsequential," said Astorino of the dam breach, since it wouldn't have inflicted major damage.

However, Astorino was critical of the fact that there seemed to be a lack of information sharing. He wasn't notified by city officials of the cyberattack, who didn't share information with the FBI or Homeland Security.

On a somewhat related note, the latest turn in the legal battle between Apple and the FBI has the government agency turning to "hackers" to essentially break into iPhones rather than wait for Apple to comply.