Iran,increasing tension with Western countries under cyber perspective

Pierluigi Paganini September 24, 2012

The tensions between Iran and Western countries are always in the principal news, the fear for an imminent Israel attack raises many questions regarding the real level of military preparedness of the regime.

Many experts have tried to analyzed a possible scenario of the attack, in which the cyber component could assume a strategic importance.

A massive cyber attack could open the hostilities, anticipating a conventional strike, but the Government of Teheran is showing a great awareness of the risks related to a cyber attack and it has started a massive propaganda campaign trying to show to the western world its cyber capabilities.

What’s the latest news about the dispute with the Iranian government?

Last week the U.S. national security officials announced to the press that the real origin of the attacks against financial institutions such as  JPMorgan-Chase and Bank of America was Iranian cyber warfare.

The banks were hit by DDoS attacks that caused problems to the website of the companies, in a first time the security experts blamed groups of hackers representative of the Islamic movements in the struggle against the distribution of a profane video ridiculing Prophet Mohammed that has caused clashes in recent days.

Despite the attacks have been claimed on line with statements that accuse the “properties of American-Zionist Capitalists,” and announcing further cyber operations the report states that according to a former U.S. cyber-security official  the U.S. is aware on a possible attacks against its infrastructures.

Frank Cilluffo, who served at the White, during Bush government, as Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, declared

“the government of Iran and its terrorist proxies are serious concerns in the cyber context. What Iran may lack in capability, it makes up for in intent. They do not need highly sophisticated capabilities – just intent and cash – as there exists an arms bazaar of cyber weapons, allowing Iran to buy or rent the tools they need or seek.”

Let’s remind the Iran was subject by a series of state-sponsored attacks, it was hit by the cyber weapon Stuxnet and by a serious of cyber espionage malware such as Duqu and Flame, making the Iranian government very reactive under cyber warfare perspective.

The accusations of the U.S. government have generated an immediate response from Tehran which has refused liability in the attacks.

Head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali has confirmed to the Persian service of the Fars News Agency that the Islamic Republic has never launched any cyber attack on U.S. banks.

The Iranian official is convinced that claims are simple justifications for ongoing cyber attacks against his country. The Iranian official also provided further regarding the cyber capabilities of the country declaring that the government is working to protect critical infrastructures of the country

“We can say that our nuclear systems are vaccinated against such cases (computer viruses and malwares),”

“The Stuxnet virus was used to hinder our nuclear activities for two years but we see in practice that our activities in this field continue successfully.”

Javadi said that the indigenous anti-virus is actually able to detect the virus such as Stuxnet and Flame and to clean up the infected computers.

Last April Iranian oil sector had experienced with a series of cyber attacks that also hit  the country’s Oil Ministry, cyber offensive that according Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, deputy minister in engineering affairs were immediately contained.

How Iran is preparing itself to a cyber attack?

Government is launching the initial phases of a national internet, a countrywide network aimed to host all sensible services run through the world wide web, Ali Hakim-Javadi , deputy communications and technology minister, announced through the Mehr news agency:

“In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices … have been connected to the national information network,”

The internal network would be completed within March 2013 and it’s not clear if the access to internet will be completed interdicted.

Millions of websites proposing contents not aligned with the government’s policy are blocked by Iranian authorities and it’s not first time that the regime is controlling internet access.

Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqipour declared:

“Especially on major issues and during crises, one cannot trust this network at all,” he said, referring to the global Internet.

“Control over the Internet should not be in the hands of one or two countries.”

The government is creating its own network to secure the Regime’s sensitive data and infrastructures isolating them from internet to avoid cyber attacks. Recently the Government has also announced to desire to block access to Google and Gmail service in reaction to the anti-Islam film that has sparked outrage inside the Muslim world.

Analyzing Tor network metrics is possible to discover how many users are trying daily to avid censorship using anonymizing services, the blue plot indicate the possible presence of control action.

The block has been applied since last night but there is no indication as to whether the filtering would be temporary or permanent.

The rumors that are surrounding the Iran, demonstrating the high tension between the country and Western coalition, can trigger a spiral of actions in the real world as in the cyber space, which could have global repercussions in economic terms. Iran is one of the largest oil producers in the world and the global economic crisis could worsen if the state was attacked.

Iran has already warned that oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz will be in jeopardy in case of conflict, due this reason is reasonable to be expected an intensify  of covert cyber offensive from both sides.

The situation is extremely delicate but I don’t believe in an imminent conventional strike.

Pierluigi Paganini

you might also like

leave a comment