US sanctions Iran's Intelligence Ministry, its chief over cyber activities

Tresuary says group named MuddyWater conducting cyber campaigns since 2018.

US sanctions Iran's Intelligence Ministry, its chief over cyber activities

The US imposed sanctions on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its Minister of Intelligence for engaging in cyber-enabled activities against the US and its allies, the Treasury Department announced on Friday.

The department said in a statement the MOIS and its cyber actor proxies have conducted malicious cyber operations since at least 2007, targeting a range of government and private-sector organizations around the world.

It said cyber threat actors assessed to be sponsored by the Iranian government and MOIS disrupted Albanian government computer systems in July this year, forcing the government to suspend online public services for its citizens.

"Iran’s cyber-attack against Albania disregards norms of responsible peacetime State behavior in cyberspace, which includes a norm on refraining from damaging critical infrastructure that provides services to the public," Brian Nelson, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.

The department said the US identified a group earlier this year, known as MuddyWater, and added that it is a subordinate element within MOIS that has been conducting cyber campaigns in support of the organization’s objectives since 2018.

"The MOIS, under the leadership of Esmail Khatib, directs several networks of cyber threat actors involved in cyber espionage and ransomware attacks in support of Iran’s political goals," it added.