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Cyberthreats from adversaries such as Iran happen 'all the time behind the scenes,' Crowdstrike CEO says

Key Points
  • Crowdstrike CEO George Kurtz tells CNBC it's plausible that Iran will attack American businesses' infrastructure in response to the death of its top military commander last week.
  • "It's certainly a possibility in terms of kinetic and cyber retaliation, and I think what's important for folks to realize is that this happens all the time behind the scenes," Kurtz says in a "Mad Money" interview.
  • Kurtz explains how Crowdstrike uses artificial intelligence to defend enterprise cloud computing against cyberthreats.
Crowdstrike CEO talks Iran cyber threats, fighting cloud breaches

Cyberattacks from nation-states are common, and there is reason to believe that Iran will target the U.S. cyber world in response to the killing of its top military leader, according to George Kurtz, CEO of cybersecurity company Crowdstrike.

"It's certainly a possibility in terms of kinetic and cyber retaliation, and I think what's important for folks to realize is that this happens all the time behind the scenes," Kurtz told CNBC's Jim Cramer in a "Mad Money" interview Friday. Crowdstrike is primarily in the business of preempting enterprise cloud infrastructure breaches.

Kurtz added "these sort of determined adversaries, nation-state adversaries, are constantly attacking our corporations and critical infrastructure 24/7 and most people really don't understand the extent of these attacks and the damage that they can actually inflict."

The comments came the day after news broke that the U.S. carried out an operation on Thursday killing Iran's Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad. Soleimani led Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' foreign operations wing, for more than two decades as the country gained influence across the Middle East.

President Donald Trump, who ordered the strike, said the action was intended "to stop a war." While others have questioned the Trump administration's reasoning and strategy for the attack, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said it was necessary to prevent Soleimani from carrying out a plot against the U.S.

The attack has reignited tensions between the two countries. Iran has vowed to take action. Questions have been swirling not about whether Iran will retaliate for the airstrike, but when and how.

"As companies move to the cloud, it's important to have protection in the cloud. That's a good opportunity for us," Kurtz said. Crowdstrike was founded in 2011 and markets its Falcon platform for cybersecurity in the cloud era.

U.S.-Iran relations have been sticky for decades, notably since the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in 1979, and experts worry that the latest developments could trigger Iran to step up its cyberattacks. Cybersecurity firms including Crowdstrike said Iran doubled down on its cyber offensive against the U.S. last year after the White House imposed sanctions on the country.

Crowdstrike, which debuted on public markets in June, uses artificial intelligence to predict vulnerabilities and potential threats from nation-states, Kurtz said.

AI "doesn't require signatures, meaning we don't have to see an attack before to know that it's actually bad," he said. "We look at the previous attacks, how they operated and their techniques, and we're able to program that into our Falcon platform so we can identify attacks that have never been seen before, particularly attacks from nation-state adversaries."

Crowdstrike CEO: Cyber retaliation from Iran is 'certainly a possibility'

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