PHILADELPHIA – September 8, 2023 – On September 8, 2023, the Middle East Forum (MEF) received a notification from the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center regarding a spear-phishing attack directed at our research director, Jonathan Spyer. This sophisticated cyber-attack involved emails crafted meticulously to impersonate trusted sources with the intent to solicit sensitive information by leveraging detailed personal data to craft apparently legitimate requests to gain unauthorized access to secure systems.
The assailant behind this attack is identified as the Mint Sandstorm group, a collective reportedly operating under Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence arm. This group has been involved in cyber-espionage activities since late 2021, targeting various crucial infrastructures within the United States. Under the guidance of the IRGC, they have sought to undermine democratic processes globally through an escalating series of sophisticated cyber warfare initiatives, focusing on sectors such as energy, utilities, and transportation.
In response to this incident, MEF Director Gregg Roman stated, "This spear-phishing attempt on our organization underscores the volatile cyber landscape we navigate daily. It only strengthens our resolve to protect the integrity of our research and the security of our digital assets. We are committed to bolstering our cybersecurity infrastructure to continue our mission without compromise."
We want to assure our patrons, supporters, and the general public that no data was compromised during this attack. Our team is actively collaborating with appropriate authorities to further enhance our security measures and safeguard sensitive data, ensuring the uninterrupted continuity of our work.
The attack occurred on August 17, 2023, the same day MEF's news site, Focus on Western Islamism, published "Iran's Pistachio Proxies," an in-depth investigation into the pistachio magnate Amin family's collaboration with Iranian institutions sanctioned by the U.S. government or linked to violent regime entities such as the IRGC.
The Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, is dedicated to defining American interests in the Middle East and protecting America from Islamist threats. It achieves its goals through intellectual, activist, and philanthropic efforts. For more information, visit www.meforum.org.
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