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Iranian Hackers Targeting Universities’ Intellectual Property Again

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Intellectual Property Iranian Hackers Targeting Universities' Intellectual Property Again

Over the weekend, The Secureworks Counter Threat Unit alleged Iranian hackers are conducting another wave of hacks targeting U.S. universities’ intellectual property.

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Cobalt Dickens, an advanced persistent threat group connected to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has allegedly targeted 76 universities in 14 countries including the U.S. The most common attack method appears to be phishing attacks—victims are brought via email to one of hundreds of spoofed websites and domains. Phishing attacks have recently proven a consistently popular attack vector for hackers; they offer a high success rate and are difficult to distinguish from legitimate emails.

Universities generate billions of dollars in intellectual property through their research and academic studies. Thus universities’ intellectual property has become a lucrative target for digital threat actors—especially nation-state threat actors.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted nine Iranian citizens in connection with a previous digital crime wave targeting universities’ intellectual property. During that digital crime wave, the intellectual property stolen was valued at a total of $3.4 billion. That attack targeted 76 universities in 21 countries as well as 47 U.S. and foreign private enterprises.

Email security and security information and event management appear to be the best defenses your enterprise can deploy to protect your intellectual property from a similar fate!

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