What Happened: Bahrain’s National Security Agency, the Ministry of Interior and the first deputy prime minister’s office were hacked on Aug. 5, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 8. The United States has provided Bahraini authorities with intelligence that points to Iran as the culprit in the cyberattacks, though Bahrain has yet to publicly blame Tehran.
Why It Matters: This follows a July 25 cyberattack on the country’s Electricity and Water Authority, as well as a suspected attack on the company Aluminum Bahrain. While Bahrain has long been a target of Iranian cyberattacks, this latest spate is likely the result of Iran looking for new ways to retaliate against the campaign of intensifying sanctions by Washington and its Arab Gulf allies. The hacks also highlight another risk that will have to now be considered in the event of a U.S.-Iran conflict in the Persian Gulf.
Background: Arab Gulf states — and in particular, those most critical of Tehran (Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia) — are prime targets for Iranian cyberattacks. Iran has been linked to breaches of government and private company networks in the region, including a cyberattack on Saudi airport systems in December 2016.