NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Iran’s vow to avenge the death of General Qassem Soleimani is raising concerns about cyberattacks in the U.S., and particularly in the Tri-State Area.

Computer hacking is a major weapon in the Iranian arsenal, and it was used just a few years ago against a target in the northern suburbs, reports CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

A cyberattack on the 911 system in Orange County would endanger residents in need of help and the first responders trying to provide it.

“We understand that if you were to do, like, a ‘denial of service’ attack on the 911 system, people couldn’t get into the system, it would be devastating,” said Emergency Services Commissioner Brendan Casey.

Events in the Middle East have governments at every level reviewing firewalls and cybersecurity. There is an understandable reluctance to talk specifics.

“We’ve always had a heightened guard up. Now we’re really particularly concerned because now they have a reason to attack us,” said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus.

Neuhaus is a military reservist who spent much of last year in Iraq. His quarters were just a few hundred yards from the spot where an American drone strike killed Soleimani.

MORE: Read The 2016 Indictment Against Iranian Hackers (pdf)

Many experts say a cyberattack is one likely form of Iranian revenge, and the idea of it happening in New York City or the suburbs is not far-fetched.

In 2013, an Iranian hacker got into the computer system that controls a dam in Westchester County.

The accused, Hamid Firoozi, is still on the run and wanted by the FBI.

Hamid Firoozi, Bowman Avenue Dam Cyberattack Suspect

Hamid Firoozi is accused in an Iranian cyberattack on the Bowman Avenue Dam in Westchester County. (Credit: CBS2)

Experts say he’s one of many hackers with connections to Iran’s military.

“All our utilities, whether it’s power or water, are all run by some time of electronics, so they can be directly impacted by some type of attack,” said Neuhaus.

It will be busy days ahead for IT experts as they test firewalls and look to patch any weaknesses.


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