Hezbollah’s cyber capabilities should be quite worrisome to Western intelligence agencies. Iranian backed Hezbollah is using cyber warfare as a tool of coercion that has shifted the battlefield from urban streets to enemy servers.

Hezbollah is utilizing a hybrid method of warfare by mixing armed and psychological warfare to antagonize its adversaries. During Israel’s occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hezbollah is credited as a factor for the Israeli withdrawal by pioneering the use of hybrid tactics. Meanwhile, substantive funding from Tehran has enabled Hezbollah to shift its coercive tactics to the servers of its Western adversaries.

The theory of proxy warfare formulates the underpinnings that unmask the proxy environments by revealing their certain components i.e., the impact of time, the principal-agent problems, the role of power in proxy warfare, the exploitative and transactional models that unmask the course of the relationship between principal and the agent.

The principal-agent problems are the result of the situation in which the principal assigns the work to the agent who performs the work. Meanwhile, the power of the principal over the agent compels the agent to do something that it may not be willing to perform.

The Islamic Republic of Iran as a principal cultivated its ties with Shia militias due to its transnational revolutionary ambitions. Israeli involvement in the Lebanese Civil War and its support for Christian militias prompted Iran to jump into the Lebanese dispute and organize Shia Muslims under the banner of Hezbollah. The IRGC and Hezbollah’s relationship was initially fueled by the common interest of pushing the United States from the Middle East. Similarly, the Israeli-Iranian rivalry also strengthens the relationship between the principal and agent.

The changing course of warfare and the introduction of cyber terrorism has prompted Hezbollah to utilize the Internet as a weapon. With the help of the principal, Hezbollah is shifting its tactics from the streets towards the routers of its Western opponents. The financial backing of Iran has enabled Hezbollah to enhance its capabilities of psychological warfare through its media wing Al-Manar.

The enhanced Internet capabilities of the group are allowing it to pursue strategic objectives. During the 34-day Hezbollah-Israel conflict, it launched sophisticated cyberattacks on Israel. The sabotage of the Iranian nuclear program by the joint U.S.-Israeli Stuxnet virus prompted Tehran to undertake precautionary measures against its adversary, hence Iran used the exploitative model by providing it the tools of cyber training that can be seen in the Volatile Cedar cyberattack that was an offensive against Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The relationship of principal and agent between Iran and Hezbollah in which Hezbollah acts as an agent backed by Iran has pursued Iranian transnational ideas of revolution and also it had served as a valuable ally. Similarly, Hezbollah has served as a valuable proxy of Iran in the modern string of cyber warfare. Hezbollah provides Iran plausible deniability.

Source » intpolicydigest