Iran has become the recent target of the gradually surging battles in cyber space around the world. The country’s communications network has been reportedly hit by cyber attackers resulting to disruption in Internet service there.
High Council of Cyberspace secretary Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi was quoted by the Iranian Labour News Agency as saying: “Yesterday we had a heavy attack against the country’s infrastructure and communications companies which has forced us to limit the Internet.”
Situated strategically in the Middle East, Iran is the fifth biggest oil exporter in the world. Its current ambition to enrich uranium, believed by many Western countries including the United States as a sure way to develop nuclear bomb, has made the country a target of economic sanctions and cyber warfare. Iran’s uranium-enrichment facility was hit by the so-called Stuxnet virus in 2010, disrupting the progress of its nuclear power development. Tehran thinks the worm was planted by Israel and/or the United States.
The most recent attack on Iran’s Internet infrastructure is just one of the many attacks that had hit the country.
“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,” Behabadi said.
“All of these attacks have been organized. And they have in mind the country’s nuclear, oil, and information networks.”
While the United States government prefers to wear Iran down by implementing prolonged economic sanctions, Israel had been rattling its sword by striking its arch-enemy militarily. So far, Iran has not shown any signs of shelving its nuclear ambitions. Tehran has always maintained that its atomic research is for peaceful purposes only.
The commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards said last month that the country is prepared to defend itself in the event of a “cyber war”.
Last April, Iran revealed that a computer Trojan was detected inside the control systems of its vast terminal responsible for the country’s crude oil exports. There was no reported operational disruption on the facility at that time.
Iran also runs one of the biggest Internet filters in the world, which blocks tens of thousands of websites citing moral and criminal reasons. Sites that allow users to express their opinions are also being blocked routinely.
The restrictions mainly began after the controversial election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. protesters organized with the help of Facebook and YouTube took to the streets but were violently suppressed by the government security forces.
This week also saw another violent protests led by foreign exchange dealers and demonstrators calling for the government to manage its currency well. Iran’s rial has lost almost 80 percent of its value against the dollar this week.
Iranian police fired teargas at demonstrators carrying slogans criticizing Ahmadinejad to disperse them.