The Cybersecurity 202: U.S. businesses are preparing for Iranian hacks after American cyber attack In addition to hacks that wipe data from computers, the Iranians might launch ransomware attacks that lock up computers until the victim pays a fine, or denial of service attacks that render websites and digital tools unusable, Hultquist told me. But they were split on whether the Trump administration made the right call by launching a cyber attack. On the plus side, a cyber attack that doesn't kill anyone is clearly a better outcome than a military strike with many casualties, Chris Painter, former State Department cyber coordinator during the Obama administration, told me. He cautioned, however, that U.S. officials should also be communicating with Iran so officials there have a clear understanding of why the United States launched the attack and how they can prevent more cyber offensives. On the other hand, the Trump administration could have reduced the likelihood of retaliatory cyber attacks by instead opting for a smaller conventional attack that didn't risk casualties, Michael Morell, a former acting CIA director, told me in an email.