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A woman walks by a mural of an Iranian flag. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Iran recruits heavily from online security forums to staff suddenly-launched hacking campaigns, according to new research by Recorded Future.

Why it matters: The report comes a day after security experts expressed fears Iran may retaliate against the United States for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. As a Recorded Future official said yesterday — albeit without the detail of the report — if emergency hiring leads Tehran to hire amateurs, they may be less amenable to government control.

The report: Recorded Future based its conclusions on discussions with a well-placed source in the Iranian hacker community and analysis of Iranian security forums.

The intrigue: Iran operates a tiered system for cyber attacks, where government employees choose targets and contract private firms, including universities acting as contractors, to do the dirty work.

  • There are 50 or so private firms acting as contractors, according to the report.
  • Iran has a well-regarded cyber espionage program for slow, deliberate campaigns.
  • But when Iran needs a quick response, the contractors often need a quick influx of talent. They use security forums as an emergency recruiting tool, sacrificing quality and patriotism for speed.

The examples: Recorded Future identifies two attacks that required this kind of immediate influx of talent:

  • DDoS attacks against the financial sector between 2012 and 2014: Distributed denial of service attacks overwhelm victims' computers with internet traffic. These attacks were a rapid response to U.S. sanctions and cyber attacks against Iran's nuclear program that were widely attributed to the U.S. and Israel.
  • A destructive attack against the Sands Casino in 2013: This was in response to Sheldon Adelson suggesting the U.S. launch a nuclear assault against Iran.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 4 hours ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February
  2. Vaccines: Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker