The White House has tasked U.S. intelligence and military officials with finding new means of deterring Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf while avoiding an escalation that could lead to all-out war, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

According to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the effort, the goal is to replicate the type of clandestine attacks Iran is believed to have recently carried out against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.

One example of this effort is the cyber-attacks the US carried out against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer and weapons systems on Thursday in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone.

According to a senior U.S. military official, the White House has a number of options at its disposal that could undermine the ayatollahs’ regime and convince Iran to cease its provocative activity in the Middle East, but which would not be clearly attributable to the United States.

As National Defense University professor Sean McFate told the Times, “If we want to fight back, do it in the shadows.”

One of the options McFate suggested for countering Iran would be to assist the ongoing protests against the Iranian government and incentivize mercenary forces to counter Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

While hacking into Iran’s missile systems would be a difficult and lengthy process according to security experts, such a move could reap real results on the ground, as was the case when the United States penetrated North Korea’s missile system, prompting Pyongyang to begin work on a completely different system.

Noting that the deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and missile batteries to the Persian Gulf had not deterred Iran, McFate said, “Iran is playing by the new rules while we are using the obsolete ones, and wonder why Iran’s behavior is not changing.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.