16 August 2019
- Risk of cyber-attacks will rise as Bahrain plays increasing role as base for anti-Iranian naval missions
- Businesses, critical infrastructure and government departments will be priority targets for further attacks
- Shia militant threat will remain lower, though rise of attack will rise in event of Bahrain-based naval forces conducting major strike on Iranian interests
Unidentified hackers have successfully targeted government departments and critical infrastructure in recent weeks, breaching systems of the National Security Agency, Ministry of Interior and first deputy prime minister’s office on 5 August, following an attack on the Electricity and Water Authority on 25 July. Attacks on Aluminium Bahrain, one of the world’s largest aluminium smelters and a major employer in Bahrain, have also been rumoured though the company denies having been targeted. Bahraini authorities have not definitively attributed responsibility for the attacks but have reportedly received intelligence suggesting Iranian involvement.
Iran has credibly been linked to previous cyber-attacks on Gulf states’ infrastructure, such as the targeting of the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority and Ministry of Labour in November 2016 and January 2017 respectively. Riyadh’s close relations with Washington likely explained its targeting in these instances, which came amid high tensions between the US and Iran (see our 3 February 2017 Report)…