News You Really Need To See: “Theft of Saudi Documents Suggests Iranian Hack, Analysts Say”

“Theft of Saudi Documents Suggests Iranian Hack, Analysts Say”

The Washington Post, June 26, 2015, p.A12

The purported theft of confidential Saudi documents that have been released by WikiLeaks bears the hallmarks of Iranian hackers linked to cyberattacks in more than a dozen countries, including the United States, according to cybersecurity experts and Middle East analysts.  Last week, WikiLeaks published about 70,000 of what it said were half a million documents obtained from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry.  The transparency advocacy group promises more releases of the diplomatic cables, whose authenticity has not been independently verified.  Experts said that the cables, apparently stolen over the past year, paint an unflattering portrait of Saudi diplomacy as reliant on oil-wealth patronage and obsessed with Iran, the kingdom’s chief rival, but appeared to contain no shocking revelations.  More intriguing, they said, are signs of Iran’s involvement in the breach, suggesting a growing resort to — and proficiency in — cyberwarfare in that country’s long-running confrontation with Saudi Arabia and the West. … A report released Friday by Recorded Future, a firm based in Massachusetts and Sweden that specializes in predictive analytics, describes similarities between Iranian-linked hackers and the Yemen Cyber Army, which last month claimed responsibility for the Saudi Foreign Ministry hack.  The little-known group said the move was retaliation for the Saudi-led attacks in Yemen.”

Quickie analysis: Given that nothing particularly damaging to the Saudis was revealed, this seems like the intersection of cyberwar and middle school gossip at a regional level.

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