American military cyber forces in June knocked out a crucial database used by Iran’s elite paramilitary force to target oil tankers and shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf hours after that force shot down a U.S. surveillance drone, according to U.S. officials, Washington Post writes.
The retaliatory strike by U.S. Cyber Command against the system used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was approved by President Donald Trump, who that same day called off a military airstrike against Iran because killing Iranians would not be “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
U.S. Cyber Command did not address questions on the secret operation. “As a matter of policy and for operational security, we do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence, or planning,” Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The cyberstrike was in the works for weeks if not months, officials have said, adding that the Pentagon proposed launching it after Iran’s alleged attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier in June, the Post adds.
The cyber response to a military shoot-down of a drone shows how the Pentagon is expanding its repertoire of options to integrate cyber into military plans, said officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive operation.
It also shows how Cybercom, which coordinated the strike with Central Command which oversees the Middle East, is able to support regional commanders to achieve strategic aims – in this case to preserve freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.