Monday, February 24, 2014

Iran Cyber Threat: Tehran girds military, industry for cyber war as Iranian attacks abroad continue

Iran Cyber Threat: Tehran girds military, industry for cyber war as Iranian
attacks abroad continue

Iran's supreme leader in January urged Iranians to prepare for cyber war

Iran's supreme leader in January urged Iranians to prepare for cyber war
Iran is building up its cyber warfare forces within the military civilian
militias while using government-linked hacker groups to conduct proxy
attacks on the West, including the U.S. Navy and American financial

Last week, a senior Iranian military commander said Iran is ready for
conflict in cyberspace and prepared to counter attacks on Iranian networks.

"Iran is fully prepared to confront any kind of cyber attacks," Gen.
Mohammad Aqakishi, commander of the information technology and communication
department at the Iranian military general staff said during a cultural
ceremony in Zanjan Feb. 18, according to state-run media.

Aqakishi said cyber warfare is expected to be a common method of modern
warfare and that "one of the options on the table of the U.S. and its allies
is a cyber war against Iran. But we are fully prepared to fight cyber

In December, Iran's Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan revealed a
series of indigenously-produced high-tech products used in cyber defenses.

Aqakishi's comments followed statements Feb. 12 by Iran's Supreme Leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urging Iranian students to prepare for cyber war.

"You are the cyberwar agents and such a war requires Ammar-like insight and
Malik Ashtar-like resistance; get yourselves ready for such war
wholeheartedly," Khamenei said in a message, referring to two companions of
Prophet Mohammad in early Islamic history.

"Know all dimensions of the Dominance Power even go through its layers and
learn about its goals to analyze its real strategies; to face it, exploit
all of your capacities and rely upon Divine promises," the Khamenei message
added. The statement was made to a meeting of the Islamic Association of
Independent University Students.

U.S. officials say Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Islamist
shock troops for the regime in Tehran and the paramilitary Basij forces are
involved in cyber warfare efforts.

A former IRGC commander, Brig. Gen. Hoseyn Hamedani, said four years ago
that Iran had trained "1,500 cyber commandos," and that 90 percent of the
capabilities of the IRGC's Tehran section are engaged in what Iran calls the
"soft war" a term that includes cyber warfare and influence and propaganda

The cyber commandos are engaged in cyber attacks on Iranian opposition and
foreign-based websites and have built false replica Persian-language
websites that spread disinformation against Iranian oppositionists. Other
targets included correspondents for such outlets as Voice of America, Radio
Free Europe/Farda and the BBC's Persian service.

Tens of thousands of Iranian cyber warfare personnel also are engaged in
blogging as part of efforts to influence cyberspace and social media. The
Basij militia groups have adopted the motto "10m Basijis, 10m blogs" as part
of an effort to influence social media in defense of Iran's theocratic state
and Islamist policies.

Unilke its cyber attacks, the cyber influence operation has produced few
results for the regime, despite an investment in soft warfare estimated to
be around $500 million.

Iran has been linked to major cyber attacks against both U.S. government and
private sector networks.

An Iranian-backed hacker group known as Parastoo announced last month that
it planned to conduct widespread cyber attacks against Israel.
"To our resistant and fighter groups of all kinds, we are announcing the
first organized 'Cyber Intifada' against the Zionist Regime," Parastoo
announced Jan. 27 on the website

"Here we announce that April 4, 2014, during #OPISRAEL2 we will do damage to
assassin regime particularly in communication and 'critical infrastructure'
sectors," the statement said. "Do not aim at easy and low hanging fruits,
aim high and do damage to your target as much as possible and you can always
ask us for more? Yes brothers, we do provider certain service for 'fighters'
who showed they are serious."

Parastoo said it was joining an alliance of hacker groups in the cyber
attacks. They include Anonymous, Remember Emad Brigades, Ababil, Bosnian
Cyber Army, Karbala EW, Ibnol'Jihad, Iranian Cyber Army, Islamic Cyber Army,
Cyber Hezbollah, Syrian Electronic Army, Mansooroon, Algerian Hacker, Gaza
Security Teams, Ajax Team, TEAMR00T, and AnonGhost.

Parastoo was linked by U.S. security officials to cyber attacks against U.S.
banks and financial institutions last year. Iran also was connected to cyber
attacks last year on the Saudi Arabian national oil company Aramco that
disabled some 30,000 computers.

The Stuxnet computer worm, a U.S. and possibly Israeli clandestine cyber
attack operation, infected centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment
facility and covertly caused hundreds of the high-speed gas spinning
machines to self-destruct.

The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 18 that Iranian hackers were linked to
cyber attacks on a Navy computer network and the damage was more extensive
than initially estimated.
The Navy spent four months purging hackers and access points from a large
unclassified computer network call the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. The
penetration represented a new level of sophistication for Iranian cyber
attacks. Previous operations were less sophisticated but disruptive
distributed denial of service strikes.

Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, the nominee to head the National Security Agency,
is expected to be questioned about the breach during his nomination hearing.

Iranian hackers were able to penetrate the Navy network last fall and
operate within the network for weeks until November.
The network hosts websites, stores information and handles voice, video and
data communications for some 800,000 users at 2,500 locations.

Officials believe the penetration allowed Iranians to conduct surveillance
of unclassified Navy and Marine Corps networks that are used for some
sensitive but unclassified work.

Rogers, as chief of cybersecurity for the Navy, was in charge of directing
the military response to the cyber attacks.

In Iran, officials announced last month that they are bolstering the
defenses of Iran's oil industry against cyber attacks.

Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Zanganeh, director of Iran's Civil Defense said the
cyber defenses of oil industry networks were strengthened following an April
2012 cyber attack on Iran's oil ministry the infected computers with a
software virus that damaged hard drives. The Iran Science Ministry also was

Iran claims it uncovered both the Stuxnet virus in 2010 and a virus called
Stars that was an intelligence-gathering virus.

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