On CNN Saturday, reporter Donie O'Sullivan broke down what it would be like if Iran retaliated against the killing of military leader Qassim Suleimani by turning the full force of their cyberwar capabilities on the United States.
"I think a lot of people are sitting at home and wondering, what, exactly, does a cyberattack look like for me?" asked anchor Christi Paul.
"Over the past few years we've seen Iran experts really expand their capabilities in this space," said O'Sullivan. "I think that the big concern is, do they have the capability of turning out the lights in a major American city? Over the past decade, we've seen, according to the U.S. government, in 2012 Iran was able to break into dozens of U.S. banks, causing millions of dollars worth of damage, and in 2014, actually breaking into the Sands Casino and taking their customers' social security details, credit card details. So we can see them expanding capability in that space."
"I was told by a director of one of the country's top cybersecurity companies this morning that within an hour of the news breaking of the airstrike, there were officials and executives from oil and gas companies coming to the cybersecurity companies and saying, what do we have to do to be prepared?" added O'Sullivan.
"There's other ways that they can disrupt, interrupt life, one of them being its ability to execute sort of disinformation campaigns," added anchor Martin Savidge. "What exactly are they — how would that work for Iran? What would that do to impact us?"
"I think we're all very familiar at this point with the disinformation campaigns that Russia ran in 2016 targeting the U.S., but what's less talked about is Iran also has those capabilities," said O'Sullivan. "Over the past two years, we've seen Twitter and Facebook and other social media platforms taking down thousands of accounts that are linked to — that they say have been linked to the Iranian government sort of doing the thing that we saw Russia doing in 2016, posing as U.S. activists and trying to cause and sow divisions here in the U.S. and pushing Tehran's line, whether it's criticizing Iran's rivals and praising the regime."