As the US government’s shutdown extends into its 34th day, hackers linked to Iran have taken advantage by launching a cyberattack.
The shutdown over President Donald Trump's $5.6bn (£4bn) budget request for a border wall with Mexico is the longest in US history.
Without a budget passing, many government employees have been left unpaid and told not to come into work. That means critical IT systems are being left vulnerable.
A DNS-hijacking cyberattack has been launched on the US which experts believe originates from Iran.
DNS hijacking reroutes internet traffic to a place where it can be manipulated and monitored for malign activities.
Chris Krebs, Director of the US Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), has issued "an emergency directive to US civilian agencies requiring immediate actions to protect federal information systems from ongoing DNS hijacking and tampering activities".
Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated in recent months. President Trump claims Iran has been continuing its nuclear programme in contravention of a deal reached in 2015, leading the US to pull out last May and reimpose sanctions on the nation.
A report from the independent ICG argues that Iran is still complying with the deal even though President Trump abandoned it. Iran’s compliance has actually improved, the inspectors claim.
The sense in Tehran is Trump’s administration is aiming for regime change.
Whether or not that’s the case, the report’s authors claim the US wants to “bring Iran to its knees” economically. Iran believes it can stay afloat until 2021, but if Trump is re-elected in November next year then continued sanctions could be crippling.
Such an event could be disastrous. Experts believe it would lead Iran to massively escalating its nuclear programme for leverage against the US. If Iran decides to provoke US interests, the US and Isreal are expected to adopt a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ approach.
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