Iran increased cyber-security spending 12-fold since 2013

Pierluigi Paganini March 28, 2015

Iran is improving its cyber capabilities faster than experts ‘would have ever imagined’ and increased cyber-security spending 12-fold since2013.

The British Business Insider published an interesting post on the Iranian cyber capabilities, according the experts the Government of Teheran is improving expertise in the cyber domain faster than experts ‘would have ever imagined’.

Iran is secretly working, let me add like every other government, to a new generation of cyber weapons that could cause serious damages to critical infrastructure of foreign governments and that could be used to penetrate their networks.

It’s my opinion that Iran today represents a threat exactly like Russia, China and North Korea.

According to  the research firm Small Media, Iran increased cyber-security spending 12-fold since President Hassan Rouhani gained power in 2013. I suggest you to give a look to the report released by experts at Small Media. Vowing to ramp up the country’s cyber capabilities, Rouhani has given the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) an annual cybersecurity budget of roughly $19.8 million.

“Vowing to ramp up the country’s cyber capabilities, Rouhani has given the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) an annual cybersecurity budget of roughly $19.8 million.” states the Business Insider.

Iran cyber security Budget

Iran is training a new generation of cyber soldiers, According to a report released in 2013 by the Middle East Media Research Institute, by November 2010, the Basij Cyber Council had trained 1,500 cyber-warriors who, according to IRGC commander Hossein Hamedani, “have assumed their duties and will in the future carry out many operations.”

According to the Business Insider, experts have assisted to an escalation of the Iranian Investment after the discovery of the Stuxnet virus, a cyber weapon designed to cause serious damage to Iranian nuclear program.

By analyzing the problem in the future perspective, I personally consider more dangerous the Iranian cyber capabilities than its nuclear program. Cyber weapons could be destructive exactly like conventional weapons by their use presents numerous advantage, first of all the difficult attribution in the case of attack.

Another element of concern of the Iranian cyber growth is the alleged support received by the Russia, a country considered one of the most active in the Information Warfare.

“Russia has probably helped Iran a lot in stepping up its cyber capabilities in the event of a conflict with NATO,” Kennedy said. “If they [the Iranians] want to topple the US’ financial sector, or cripple the military’s ability to communicate, they can do that.” cybersecurity expert David Kennedy, founder of information security firm TrustedSec, told to the Business Insider.

A fundamental distinction between hacking campaign run by Iranian state-sponsored hackers and their Chinese and Russian peers, it that Iran cyber units mainly operated to sabotage and destroy targets, while Russia and Chiana are more focused in cyber espionage motivated by competitive advantage or monetary gain.

Exactly like Chinese Government, also the Iranian authorities sustain programs to bring young people to the doctrine of hacking. The cyber security expert Jeff Bardin, of the greatest experts in cyber-jihad and with deep knowledge of the military operations conducted by states in the Middle East, told to the Business insider that Iran promote hacking culture through its top technological university.

“At the Sharif University of Technology, which is like the MIT of Iran, students are participating in cyber ‘capture-the-flag’ games to hone their hacking skills,” said Jeff Bardin, chief intelligence officer of cyber intelligence firm Treadstone 71. “They compete to see who can find security holes and break through servers’ encryptions and firewalls the fastest.”

“It’s all highly institutionalized,” Bardin said. “The irony is that, after looking at some of the professors’ resumes, you’ll see that most of these cyber experts teaching students how to hack were initially trained in the US or UK.”

The Government of Teheran also offers students internships with popular Iranian hacker groups, sustaining their participation in the programs of national cyber defense.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Iran,  Information Warfare)

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