Iranian hackers targeted Western universities in US, Europe and Australia

It is unclear whether the attempts to break into computer systems, including those of three Dutch universities, were successful.
It is unclear whether the attempts to break into computer systems, including those of three Dutch universities, were successful.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Government-backed Iranian hackers have targeted universities in Europe, the United States and Australia in recent months, consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has found, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported on Friday (Feb 14).

It is unclear whether the attempts to break into computer systems, including those of three Dutch universities, were successful.

The hackers were attempting to steal academic literature and course material to use in Iranian schools, the NOS said, citing PricewaterhouseCoopers' cyber security specialist Gerwin Naber.

Diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Iran have been strained since the Dutch accused Tehran of plotting two political killings in the country that triggered new European Union sanctions against Tehran last year.

Tehran has denied involvement in the shooting of the Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands.

This is not the first time Iranian hackers have targeted universities.

In 2018, four Singapore universities came under attack from an Iranian hacking syndicate believed to have pilfered more than 31 terabytes of academic data and intellectual property from varsities all over the world.

That year, nine Iranians were charged in the US for for attempting to hack into 144 US and 176 foreign universities across 21 countries - including those in Singapore - on the behest of the Iranian government.