On the Washington Examiner.
Hackers backed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps have hacked top administration officials in the United States, according to an official quoted in the Wall Street Journal late Wednesday.
"U.S. officials were among many who were targeted by recent cyberattacks," the source said. Those officials included staffers in the State Department's Office of Iranian Affairs and its Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, in addition to some journalists and academics.
The source also said the attacks may be linked to reports of detained dual citizens, pointing to Iran's arrest of Siamak Namazi on Oct. 15. After confiscating his computer, the IRGC may be trying to hack those he has been in contact with in order to build an espionage case.
After Iran arrested Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian in July 2014, the country used similar tactics to try to hack his friends and associates. "The Iranian security services attacked Jason's and his wife's computers both before and after they were taken," Ali Rezaian, the journalist's brother, told the Journal. "Iranian authorities used Jason's social media in an attempt to engage and entrap his friends."
Such social engineering schemes are relatively simple, so it's unclear whether those cyberattacks included any sort of sophisticated effort that would require technical knowledge.
The news may inspire renewed criticism of the nuclear accord that President Obama reached with Iran in July, but that criticism may also be inconsequential. American officials have frequently said they regard hacking efforts aimed at intelligence collection as routine activity in which the U.S. also engages.
"I think it's a good idea to at least think about the old saw about people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told senators in September.
Namazi is the fourth American currently being held by Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed their status with Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna last month, but the State Department refused to comment on the discussion.