Iran Accuses U.S., Israel of Causing "Unwanted Slowness" on its Internet
October 4, 2012 4:34 PM
Iran struggles to defend its networks from external attackers even as it is swept with internal political unrest
Just months after leaks from inside the Obama administration or senior intelligence indicated that the
U.S. and Israel has plotted to install malware
on computers at nuclear-processing facilities in Iran in a
successful sabotage attempt
, Iran is sounding off with new claims of U.S. or Israeli malice. Iran said Wednesday in comments to reporters that on Tuesday its national internet infrastructure was targeted by large-scale data disruption, which it believes was the work of the U.S. or Israeli, its
I. A New Attack
Iran's secretary of the High Council of Cyberspace, Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi, as accusing, "Yesterday we had a heavy attack against the country's infrastructure and communications companies which has forced us to limit the Internet. Presently we have constant cyber attacks in the country."
"Yesterday an attack with a traffic of several gigabytes hit the Internet infrastructure, which caused an unwanted slowness in the country's Internet. All of these attacks have been organized. And they have in mind the country's nuclear, oil, and information networks."
Iran has accused the U.S. of another "cyber war" effort.
[Image Source: Interplay (cover art for
The alleged attack comes at a period of high tensions between Iran's capital, Tehran, and the West. Both the U.S. and Israel have claimed to have intelligence indicating that Iran is seeking to develop short-range nuclear weapons, weapons which could pose a dire threat to the Israeli state. While the U.S. has stopped short of calling for a physical attack on Iran, Israeli has taken things a step further saying it will attack suspected Iranian nuclear facilities with or without the U.S. if Iran doesn't pledge to stop development.
Iran says it will defend itself if attacked and refuses to stop what it says is a "peaceful" uranium enrichment program.
II. The Threat From Within vs. the Threats From Outside
But the nation is also facing internal turmoil amidst a wave of revolutions in the Middle East. Iran's currency lost a third of its value against the dollar in just the last week, a staggering collapse that had citizens -- particularly those in the financial sectors -- protesting in the street. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has ordered riot police to crack down on the protesters. This is the second time in only three years that riot police have clashed with citizen protesters; in 2009 citizens took to the streets claiming that the Iranian President had resorted to fraud in his successful reelection bid.
The recent protests, in part, have forced Iranian military and intelligence to step up their internet expertise. Iran has one of the world's most extensive nation-level filters, a firewall
analogous to China's
Sites like YouTube
have been banned
to try to prevent citizens from using them as channels to spread word of protests or other anti-government activities. Iran also bans some of these sites for refusing to obey Islamic law, which among other things forbid depictions of their Prophet Mohammed.
In recent weeks Iranian protesters have clashed with riot police, similar to the riots of 2009 (pictured).
[Image Source: Wired]
But that filtering also leaves Iran's infrastructure vulnerable to foreign attack, as it means traffic is being routed through certain central conduits. Indeed, while Iran's Revolutionary Guards claim the country is
prepared to wage "cyber war"
with Israel and the West, the recent allegations indicate that Iran's efforts to secure itself against internal dissent are crippling its ability to defend itself against external threats.
Recent attacks on Iran have also
struck at the Iranian oil industry
, the lifeblood of the nation's economy. Iran is the world's fifth largest oil producer. As the U.S. refuses to buy its oil, thus Iran primarily sells its fossil fuels to China.
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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