Cybersecurity expert warns of threat

Published: Jan. 8, 2020 at 10:37 PM CST
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As world leaders say war on the ground is out of the question for now, security experts say a cyberwarfare threat still lingers.

On Monday, The Department of Homeland Security urged organizations to tighten their security and remain vigilant.

Dave Schroeder, UW-Madison Cybersecurity Expert, said Iranian cyber bots or other foreign actors could still retaliate following the recent attacks.

Monitoring systems, networks and protecting data is a day in the life of Schroeder.

"This is my passion -- cybersecurity and cyber issues," he said.

It’s in his present and his past.

"I've served in the Navy as an information war officer for eight years," he said.

Iran cybersecurity was his main focus, and it still is today.

"In the immediate aftermath of this strike, we saw Twitter start to be flooded with propaganda, misinformation, disinformation," Schroeder said.

Following the U.S. Airstrike that killed Iran’s top general, Schroeder explained the cyber-attacks took flight and Pro-Iranian bots and trolls started spreading false narratives about the U.S.

"The point here is to be able to influence people to think or behave in a certain way that is beneficial to the entity that's putting out that information," he said.

On Jan. 5, a government website was hacked showing a bloody image of President Donald Trump with a Pro-Iranian message to follow.

"It's just taking a website and doing the equivalent of spray painting graffiti on a wall. It's a very low effort common type of attack," Schroeder said.

He explained there's a difference between cyber-attacks and cyberwarfare.

“When we're talking about cyberwarfare, we're talking about something that could be destructive to property or human life," he said.

Schroeder said an attack of this magnitude could take weeks or even months to form and requires a high level skill. He explained in the last decade, the Iranians cyber-abilities are getting stronger.

"We don't believe that Iran has the ability to conduct a cyber-attack that would have a national impact, but that may be the kind of attack they're looking for," he said.