Iran has provided cyber technology to Lebanese Hezbollah and helped group build its own counterintelligence cyber unit, according to The National Interest.
The Washington-based magazine reported on Monday that Iran has helped Hezbollah become “the most sophisticated and influential Middle Eastern terrorist organization in cyberspace after the collapse of the Islamic State caliphate”.
The report, titled “How Iran Built Hezbollah Into a Top Cyber Power”, said the country sees the militants as a “key part” of its cyber program.
The first reason why Iran is “increasingly utilizing Hezbollah as a cyber proxy” is because “it grants Tehran a degree of deniability”, it said
“By training and enhancing the cyber forces of its Lebanese ally, foreign powers may not retaliate against Iranian targets after a Hezbollah-initiated cyber attack”, the article reads.
According to some reports, the Hezbollah cyber unit is likely based in Beirut's southern neighborhood of Dahieh and has computer equipment that is similar to Tehran's Sharif University.
The unit is said to work under the direction of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), and is primarily tasked with gathering intelligence on Lebanese state institutions as well as conducting cyberattacks on strategic targets in the Persian Gulf states such as gas and oil companies.
According Western cyber security experts, a Hezbollah-affiliated cyber unit, known as Lebanese Cedar APT, launched attacks in January 2021 that lasted for more than a year on telecommunications companies and internet providers in the United States and many other countries.
In 2010, the Obama administration described Hezbollah as "the most technically-capable terrorist group in the world."