The US has slammed Iran for “destabilizing and potentially escalatory” cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.
The remarks were made in a statement that announced sanctions against six Iranians for last year’s cyber-attack against Unitronics, an Israeli manufacturer of programmable logic controllers used in the water sector and other critical infrastructure organizations.
The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said the six individuals are senior officials of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Cyber-Electronic Command (IRGC-CEC), an agency of the Iranian government.
The US identified the IRGC as being responsible for the incident in December 2023, in which a defacement image was posted stating, ‘You have been hacked, down with Israel. Every equipment ‘made in Israel’ is CyberAv3ngers legal target.’
While the attack was quickly remediated and did not disrupt critical systems, the OFAC highlighted the potentially “devastating humanitarian consequences” that can arise from unauthorized access to critical infrastructure systems.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, commented: “The deliberate targeting of critical infrastructure by Iranian cyber actors is an unconscionable and dangerous act.
“The United States will not tolerate such actions and will use the full range of our tools and authorities to hold the perpetrators to account.”
OFAC added that Iranian cyber actors have committed and attempted attacks against US infrastructure on numerous other occasions, including an attempted operation against Boston Children’s Hospital in 2021.
Head of the IRGC-CEC, Hamid Reza Lashgarian, was among those sanctioned, alongside senior officials Hamid Reza Lashgarian, Mahdi Lashgarian, Hamid Homayunfal, Milad Mansuri, Mohammad Bagher Shirinkar, and Reza Mohammad Amin Saberian.
Any assets owned by these designated individuals in US are now blocked and all transactions involving property in the country are prohibited.
Financial institutions or individuals found to engage in transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals could face criminal prosecution.