Cyber security expert says U.S. response needs ‘careful calculation’ if Iran carries out cyber attack

Cyber security expert says U.S. response needs ‘careful calculation’ if Iran carries out cyber attack
Lawmakers are looking into the possibility of threats of cyberattacks from Iran and how the U.S. would respond if such an attack takes place. (Cox Media Group/Cox Media Group)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers are looking into the possibility of threats of cyber attacks from Iran and how the U.S. would respond if such an attack takes place.

There are questions about what counts as an act of war when it comes to a cyber attack.

"Definitions in this space are very hard,” attorney and former intelligence officer David Springer said.

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Springer said a U.S. response could include additional sanctions or military action like an airstrike, depending on the severity of the cyber attack.

A spokesperson for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the Department of Homeland Security briefed the committee earlier this month about the potential of cyber threats from Iran.

"There'd be a very careful calculation with what you need to do to punish bad behavior, to deter future bad behavior, but not wildly escalate it,” Springer said.

We have already seen examples of cyber attacks here at home.

Last week, the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website was defaced and reports said it showed a picture of the Iranian general killed by a U.S. airstrike earlier this month.

State and federal agencies are investigating the incident.

In 2013, the federal government said Iranian hackers breached a dam in New York to get control of the flood gates.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven men working for Iran-based computer security companies in the case.

"I think the government will be spending a lot of time dusting off old plans and creating new ones to think about as the Iranians might turn to cyber,” Springer said.

It’s often unclear who committed a cyber attack.

Springer said the intelligence community uses levels of confidence to figure out the source and to determine if and how to respond.