Iran Pursues Stronger, More Restrictive Cyber Strategies
In the past month, the Iranian government has called for white-hat hackers to help track down online criminals, established a cyber partnership with North Korea, and gave details of its planned National Information Network.Following attacks on its critical infrastructure and businesses, Iran's government has kicked off a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening its digital defenses and its ability to operate online. On Sept. 23, the Iranian government announced it had implemented the first step toward creating its National Information Network by connecting all government agencies to the secure network. The next phase will be to require citizens to use the national network, reportedly by March 2013. The country has already started using the national network to block access to Google. The move follows other initiatives to bolster the nation's online defenses and capabilities. In early September, for example, the head of Iran's Cyber and Information Exchange Police (FETA) called for white-hat hackers to aid the government in catching criminals that operate online. The government has also reportedly required each agency to create a "cyber-rescue squad" to help defend them against attacks. "Clearly the strategy will result in a more controlled, less open Internet—it definitely presents a threat to activists since a good portion of the strategy appears to target them directly," said Ronald Diebert, director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. "I would anticipate that we will see the use of offensive cyber-capabilities directed at foreign adversaries abroad in the wake of Stuxnet revelations."
The steps to bolster its power online follow attacks on Iran's nuclear processing capabilities by the Stuxnet computer virus and widespread targeting of Iranian businesses and government agencies by other online espionage attacks, such as Duqu and Flame. All three attacks were carried out by the United States and Israel, according to reports.