Rising Middle East Tensions: Protecting Your Business in the New Year


As tensions between Iran and the United States ebb and flow between escalation and status-quo, every company should be aware of the potential implications to cybersecurity.

Defense and intelligence officials are now bracing for an onslaught of cyberattacks, reports CNBC (January 7). “Iran’s formidable cyber arsenal includes malware and DoS [denial of service] attacks,” writes Vox (January 7); “Iran has established itself as one of the world’s major cyber threats.”

In a terrorism threat alert (January 4) the Department of Homeland Security warns that Iran maintains a robust cyber program and can execute cyber attacks against the United States. Previous homeland-based plots have included scouting and planning against infrastructure targets and cyber enabled attacks against a range of U.S.- based targets, notes the alert.

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

U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Terrorism Advisory System, January 4, 2020

These types of geopolitical tensions and the expanding technical capabilities of hostile nations such as Iran will accelerate the threat both to U.S. businesses and to our critical infrastructure. Although the reality of their cyber capability has been present and known for over a decade, the question of motivation often determines their target, severity, public-nature and immediacy of attacks. The rising tensions at present increase the chances of concerted attacks.

The Cybeta™ team expects the attack vectors to exploit social engineering vulnerabilities from compromised credentials, combined with technical vulnerabilities that are discoverable and exploitable. Most importantly, entities sponsored by hostile countries are likely to want to maximize the visibility of the damage from their attacks. This has the dual goal of satisfying domestic political pressures and escalating the deterrent effect on the U.S. Rather than being mostly focused on longer-term intellectual property theft or persistent access, the Cybeta team expects a marked increase in cyber attacks by countries such as Iran with a specific focus against high visibility targets.

THE CHALLENGE: Cyber attacks don’t appear from nowhere

Cybeta can help you protect your assets with a cybersecurity solution that’s predictive of security threats so you can pre-empt breaches and continuously reduce the financial losses that occur as a result of cyberattacks.

The cost of a data breach has risen 12% over the past five years to $3.92 million on average, according to July 2019 estimates from IBM. The IBM study found that the effects of a data breach are felt for years, with an average of 67% of costs realized within the first year, 22% in the second year and another 11% more than two years after a breach. Malicious breaches were found to be the most common and most expensive, accounting for more than half of data breaches in the study and costing $4.45 million on average  over $1 million more on average than those originating from accidental causes.

And not only are the financial costs immense, the intangible damage to brand value, customer relationships, and intellectual property can also be vast.

Identifying, measuring, and remediating potential cyber attacks is a difficult and time-consuming process. Cyber attacks do not appear from nowhere; they slowly materialize from the dark and deep webs. An attacker looks for vulnerability in unpatched software, on abandoned networks, or elsewhere within an enterprise’s digital footprint. Then, vulnerabilities are exploited as teams of developers find a way into the company’s systems. All the while, these bad actors are chatting and orchestrating their efforts in places that only experienced cybersecurity experts know about. When the chatter dies down, what happens next?

THE SOLUTION: Get the information you need to avoid disaster

A Cybeta solution starts with Threat Beta, a full assessment of your company’s current cybersecurity risks. We compare you against benchmarks, diagnose problem areas, and provide solutions to help fix issues. Threat Alpha solves security budget issue by examining your universe of options to give you only those suggestions that are financially viable. Lastly, continuous monitoring, reporting, and real-time alerts provided by Cybeta Overwatch give you the warning needed to avoid a disaster.

About Cybeta™

Founded in 2019, CybetaTM offers a suite of Cybersecurity products and services designed to help you keep your business off the Cyber ‘X’. Based on decades of detecting and thwarting the activities of even the most advanced attackers, CybetaTM delivers the substantive intelligence you need to make preemptive strategic and operational decisions. Think in terms of over-the-horizon visibility coupled with enhanced peripheral vision.

For more on how Cybeta can help protect your business and our offerings, contact Josh Berg, Technical Analyst at Cybeta, at josh.berg@cybeta.com.