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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

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Biden's two-step negotiating process

President Biden departs Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Pool/AFP via Getty

President Biden's summit "reset" was less about trying to make a friend out of Russia than reframing what the U.S. believes can be accomplished by engaging with President Vladimir Putin.

Driving the news: The Geneva meeting yielded no immediate breakthroughs beyond agreements about ambassadors returning to work and plans to launch talks on nuclear security. But in classic Biden fashion — aviators on, jacket off and a one-liner about invading Russia he had to clarify was a joke — the U.S. president used a post-summit news conference to explain his approach.

Scoop: NRCC to accept cryptocurrency donations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Republicans' House campaign arm will begin accepting contributions in cryptocurrency, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The National Republican Congressional Committee is the first national party committee to solicit crypto donations. That puts it at the forefront of a disruptive financial technology that could test campaign finance rules.