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Security Brief: NORTHCOM Week of November 15, 2021

Week of Monday, November 15, 2021 | Issue 36

Dyuti Pandya, NORTHCOM Team


Cyber attack infiltration in systems[1]


Date: November 17, 2021

Location: United States

Parties involved: US Homeland Security Department (DHS); Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center; Microsoft Corporation; Hackers linked to the Iranian Government; US Department of Transportation (DOT); US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); health care private sector

The event: US officials issued an advisory that has warned the public at large regarding the threat attacks by hackers linked to the Iranian government. The hackers have targeted the US with ransomware, extortion, and data exfiltration in various sectors such as transportation, public health, and health care. The tech giant Microsoft has reportedly stated that at least six different Iranian hacker groups have deployed ransomware in the country since 2020.[2]

The implications:

  • Cyberattacks causing theft among the healthcare sector will likely disrupt the availability of healthcare due to the compromising of the system and privacy of the patients. The public chain will likely be disrupted resulting in the delay of medical tests and procedures. This will likely lead to an increase in death rates. It is also very likely that the denial of service attacks in providing patient care will result in an impaired healthcare infrastructure.

  • Cyberattacks resulting in the loss of confidential information will very likely erode public confidence due to perceived inadequate security measures and a lack of integrity of private information. This will very likely create distrust in the government and health sector officials. This will almost certainly have a serious consequence for the public health care status.

  • Hackers targeting the transportation sector will likely disrupt the functioning of traffic lights and electronic traffic signs. The disruption of transportation services by third-party hacking actors will likely cause casualties, injuries, and chaos in the infrastructure.

  • Iran’s growing cyber attack capabilities will likely create an avenue for future attacks given the geo-political tension with the US. The increase in hiring proficient young adults in technology usage can likely create a volition of hackers especially trained to disrupt the various sectors in the US. Rapid advances in cybersecurity threats and evolving technology will very likely overtake the ability of lawmakers to design new laws to counter the attacks and threats.

  • Interconnectivity across borders can likely increase the cyber threat operations by allowing hackers to sell malware and skills to extremists in online darknet forums. This can likely increase the attacks with third parties gaining access to sensitive information by infiltration of government systems within the US. This will very likely degrade national security and further increase the potential for attacks and induce more distrust in the US government.


Date: November 18, 2021

Location: Tapachula, Mexico

Parties involved: US Government; Mexican Government; Haitian and Central American migrants

The event: A new caravan of about 3000 migrants hailing from Haiti and Central America embarked from Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico on November 18 and headed towards the US-Mexico border to meet another caravan of migrants from the state of Veracruz. Leaders of the US, Canada, and Mexico met on the same day as the migrant procession, to hold talks discussing immigration and other significant issues.[3]

The implications:

  • The caravan of migrants will likely incite protests from nationals of Mexico and USA who are against the government’s acceptance of asylum seekers from Haiti and Central America. It is very likely that anti-government groups will spread hatred across like-minded individuals towards immigrants and increase the spread of conspiracy theories. Some of the theories allege that allowing immigration and demographic change in the US is a plot to likely replace the white population. It is likely that some extremists also view immigration as a source of unemployment within the US and Mexico.

  • The migrants traveling across the US-Mexico border can very likely become victims of extortion, kidnapping, and trafficking by drug gangs situated nearby the state borders. It is likely that extremists in the US and Mexico can perpetuate hate crimes against migrants. It is also likely that smugglers influenced through financial benefits can bring migrants into the nation through areas that can have fewer border patrol agents. It is very likely that migrants can bypass the borders where agents are not situated and enter the country illegally.

  • It is likely that the migrant caravan will incite more migration flows through their own networks and will make it difficult for the governments of both nations to stop the migration flow. It is likely that the government may propose legislation to pass laws to obstruct the flow of migration. This can likely result in the asylum system shutting down, resulting in individuals crossing the border illegally.

  • It is likely that extremists hidden in the caravan of migrants and asylum seekers will be trying to cross the border. These could include Central American gang members or individuals with terrorist-like patterns who will join the caravan of migrants to infiltrate the US.

  • The influx of migrants into the US from Haiti will likely result in the government imposing stringent enforcement measures at the borders to detect the identities of the individuals entering the country. The measures will likely be imposed to avoid the possibility of a migrant crisis. It is likely that border patrol agents will carry out acts of violence against the migrants to prevent their entry into the countries.

  • The international community will likely apply pressure to the US and Mexico to formulate appropriate reforms that enable asylum seekers a smooth entry into the US. The polarized view on accepting/denying migrants and asylum seekers will likely question the stands adopted by the USA through a humanitarian perspective.


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[1] "Cyber" by Kalhh, licensed under Pixabay License

[2] Iran-backed hackers accused of targeting critical US sectors, ABC News, November 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/iran-backed-hackers-accused-targeting-critical-us-sectors-81230945

[3] Seeking strength in numbers, U.S.-bound migrants in Mexico form new caravan, Reuters, November 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/seeking-strength-numbers-us-bound-migrants-gather-southern-mexico-2021-11-18/

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