January 12, 2013
Iran Attacks The Banks
Posted by David Zaring

One doesn't always think about the national security implications of a secure financial system, but Iran appears to be engaged in an odd demonstration project designed to remind us about it.  As Stewart Baker observes over at Volokh:

One thing is sure, they’re the opposite of the cyber Pearl Harbor everyone’s talked about. Unless Adm. Yamamoto called up the Navy on December 7, 1941, and said, “We’ll be attacking Pearl Harbor for an hour and then the Philippines for an hour, but only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.” Because that’s pretty much how the bank attacks are going – short duration, scheduled disruptions.

That raises a couple of questions.  First, why would a country launch such a limited attack?  It could be a demonstration designed to show capability without actually provoking a response — sort of like sending an aircraft carrier to a trouble spot but staying in international waters.  Indeed, some of the details of these DDOS attacks do show surprising sophistication, and there’s no doubt the actual impact of the attacks could be greatly ramped up if the attacker wanted to. Second, if that’s the case, the best response would be to demonstrate that our defense can counter the attacker’s offense – sort of like surfacing an undetected submarine alongside the carrier.


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