Trump Throws a Cyber Jab at Iran

Trump Throws a Cyber Jab at Iran

The cyberattacks reported by Yahoo News on Friday and by others in recent days targeted Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a proxy militia. Although this isn't the first time the US has used its cyberweapons against Iran — back in 2010 the US and Israel hit Tehran's covert nuclear program hard with a computer worm called Stuxnet — the decision to unleash a cyberattack while refraining from a conventional military response raises some interesting questions:

Why launch a digital strike? It sends a message — but stops short of outright war. President Donald Trump didn't want to further escalate the conflict, but he did want to respond to the triumphant downing of an unmanned US drone, as well as to the tanker attacks that his administration has blamed on Iran. While computer code is undoubtedly dangerous — knocking out a power grid could easily kill thousands of people — dropping a payload of malicious ones and zeroes isn't nearly as provocative as physically bombing the country and killing people.

What next? Expect more digital shenanigans from both sides. Iran has history of launching disruptive cyberattacks against the US and its allies (and companies), and US officials are already warning of more. As Trump runs out of parts of the Iranian economy to sanction (see Hard Numbers, below), he'll likely see cyber as an increasingly attractive option: it can hurt Iran without provoking precisely the kind of wider war that he says he wants to avoid.

What could possibly go wrong? The first worry is collateral damage. Malicious code is hard to control once it's been released "in the wild," and it can affect systems that attackers didn't intend to hit. That leads to the other problem: unintended escalation. Cyberspace is a domain of conflict with few if any real rules, and no consensus on what constitutes an appropriate response to a damaging cyberattack. Put these two risks together, and what looks like a convenient way to smack an adversary without sparking an armed conflict could accidentally spin out of control.

"I think there are certain times where you have tectonic shifts and change always happens that way."

On the latest episode of 'That Made All the Difference,' Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, shares his thoughts on the role we all have to play in bringing our communities and the environment back to health.

For many, Paul Rusesabagina became a household name after the release of the 2004 tear-jerker film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rusesabagina, who used his influence as a hotel manager to save the lives of more than 1,000 Rwandans, has again made headlines in recent weeks after he was reportedly duped into boarding a flight to Kigali, Rwanda's capital, where he was promptly arrested on terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder charges. Rusesabagina's supporters say he is innocent and that the move is retaliation against the former "hero" for his public criticism of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with a strong hand since ending the civil war in the mid 1990s.

More Show less

Listen: Have you ever heard of Blue Zones? They're communities all around the globe—from Sardinia to Okinawa to Loma Linda, CA—where residents exceed the average human lifespan by years, and even decades. While they've been studied for the lessons we can learn about health, lifestyle, and environment, you don't have to live in a Blue Zone to experience increased longevity. It's happening everywhere. In fact, the number of people over 80 is expected to triple by 2050, reaching nearly half a billion. This episode of Living Beyond Borders focuses on the geopolitical and economic implications of an aging global population, how to make the most of new chapters in your life as you age, and what it all means for your money and the world around you.

More Show less

Born in the ashes of World War II, the United Nations now marks its 75th anniversary amid another global crisis. But is the world ready to come together today as it did decades ago? Ian Bremmer offers a brief history of the organization, and some memorable moments from years gone by, as the UN's 193 member states gather virtually for the 2020 General Assembly.

Watch the episode: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: Why we still need the United Nations


Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

How can business leaders approach budget planning for 2021 when the environment is so uncertain?

In short, I believe that the planning process for 2021 presents an opportunity to turn hard earned lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. It's an enduring exercise that links strategy to value. Now, five steps are needed for this to happen.

More Show less
UNGA banner

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal

Episode 4: The World Goes Gray

Living Beyond Borders Podcasts

5 steps for planning 2021 budgets amid uncertainty

Business In 60 Seconds