January 14, 2020

Watch Out for Iranian Info Wars Funded By Crypto

By Yaya J. Fanusie

With tensions rising between Washington and Tehran in the wake of the U.S. killing of Iranian general Qasim Soleimani earlier this month, U.S. officials should expect more Iranian responses, although not solely through military action. Iran for years has conducted sporadic information operations against the U.S. on social media. Such activity will most likely intensify, especially in an American election year, and cryptocurrencies are likely to play a role. The robust political influence campaigns Russia recently mounted against the U.S. show clearly how state actors may use cryptocurrencies to help facilitate these operations.

Iran, due to its weaker military strength compared to the U.S., is likely to prefer tactics against the United States that do not need much firepower and materiel, that require minimal personnel, and can be deployed easily through proxies to expand reach and gain plausible deniability. Cyber activity fits this mold.

As far back as 2011, Iranian operatives started deploying fake Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts against U.S. audiences, manipulating hundreds of thousands of people to follow bogus users and possibly share regime propaganda. These were rudimentary campaigns, but other U.S. adversaries took influence operations to another level.

Read the full article in Forbes.

  • Commentary
    • SAIS Review of International Affairs
    • September 1, 2020
    Local Interests, Chinese Ambitions, and an Intelligent American Response

    Review of Daniel Markey, China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020). In his book China’s Western Horizon: Be...

    By Emily Jin

  • Commentary
    • August 26, 2020
    Sharper: The Future of U.S. Sanctions Policy

    Sanctions are increasingly common in U.S. foreign policy and economic statecraft. But they are not a cure-all....

    By Kaleigh Thomas, Cole Stevens & Chris Estep

  • Commentary
    • August 13, 2020
    Shaping the Fourth Offset

    In pursuit of a Fourth Offset, export regulations may be radically reimagined to alter U.S. industry culture and commercial strategies....

    By Theodore W. Kassinger

  • Commentary
    • August 13, 2020
    For Effective Controls, Build Coalitions

    As strategic concerns about China and its industrial policy become more widespread, opportunities to build coalitions are expanding....

    By Martin Chorzempa

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia