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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 traditional arch-rivals.

I. A New Attack

Reuters reports 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."

Gibson Neuromancer
Iran has accused the U.S. of another "cyber war" effort.
[Image Source: Interplay (cover art for Neuromancer game)]

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 or Facebook 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.

Iran protests
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.

Source: Reuters

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RE: Paranoid state
By Kaleid on 10/4/2012 5:18:35 PM , Rating: 4
Killed scientists, viruses which target nuclear technology, sanctions, threats of wars, threats of regime change, threats of false flags, a history of western interventionism.

Had I been Iranian I would be very worried too.

With that said I hope the people can kick the government out and become a secular democracy.

RE: Paranoid state
By Ammohunt on 10/4/2012 6:25:51 PM , Rating: 3
With that said I hope the people can kick the government out and become a secular democracy.

Keep dreaming! all these types of regimes understand is the iron fist. Make no mistake what has happened in Libya,Egypt,Tunisia and eventually Syria is exactly what happened in Iran in the late 70ies the establishment of Islamic theocracies just Sunni rather than Shiite in my mind no different then the previous dictatorships.

RE: Paranoid state
By nocturne_81 on 10/4/2012 7:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
Though they do have plenty to be worried about.. I'm sure this is just a made up conflict to pave the road to them walling off their country from the rest of the world via the Net. Lets see what happens when they try to take their nation off of FB and twitter... aka, Egypt 2k13

RE: Paranoid state
By GulWestfale on 10/4/2012 10:13:36 PM , Rating: 2
iran has internet? but isn't the internet just porn and satire? if you remove that, what's left? dilbert "jokes" and nigerian scam emails?

RE: Paranoid state
By marvdmartian on 10/5/2012 8:07:04 AM , Rating: 2
Well, no.....there's Google....and Youtube. That is, until the Iranian government decided to block them, and set up their own versions. Which I'm sure is working out really well for them!

(Iranian dad) "What are you doing, son?"
(Iranian kid) "Checking out Mullah-tube, dad"
(Iranian dad) "Are you finding anything good?"
(Iranian kid) "Nothing but mullahs preaching, terrorist training vids....and Girls Gone Wild."
(Iranian dad) "Whaaaaaaat????"
(Iranian kid) "Kidding, dad....kidding!"

RE: Paranoid state
By Dr of crap on 10/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: Paranoid state
By Bubbacub on 10/5/2012 4:18:02 PM , Rating: 1
do you have any concept of countries other than your own?

there is more than a binary state of existence on this planet i.e. north american living standards or susbistence aggricuture and banging rocks together.

as unpleasant as the iranian theocracy is their people live in houses with electricty, heating, tv etc..

some of the oil money from the last 40 years (post opec) has trickled down. more so than in many other middle eastern theocracies that happen to be on friendly terms with usa/western europe.

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