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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.

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