Iranian government enlists hackers, bloggers

According to a cyber intelligence expert, Iran is stepping up its use of online propaganda, hacking and other sophisticated online tools.

Jeff Bardin, chief intelligence officer at research outfit Treadstone 71, claims that Iranian authorities are using several paramilitary organisations in the effort, including the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG), the Basij and Ashiyan.

Interestingly, Bardin claims Iranian efforts are not designed to take on enemies of the regime through direct actions, but rather to promote the ideals of the Islamic revolution. According to Ars Technica, their main focus is to preserve the philosophic foundation of the revolution and to curb western influences on Persian culture.

Bardin claims the Revolutionary Guard has been paying bloggers $7 per hour to promote their agenda on Facebook, comment sections and forums. That sounds like a pretty sweet gig, given that the average monthly salary in Iran was estimated at about $500 in 2010. An Israeli think-tank claims the running rate is $4.3 an hour.

Back in 2009, the Rand Corporation also published a report which found that the IRCG played a role in monitoring internet communications in Iran, in an effort to “mitigate the influx of corrupting foreign ideals,” and no, the report was not just talking about Jersey Shore.  

Although Iranian propaganda campaigns might seem crude, let’s not forget the Soviet approach was equally “subtle” and intelligent, yet many still believe in outlandish conspiracy theories conjured up by chain smoking KGB officers at the height of the Cold War. Mind you, Western propagandists aren’t doing a much better job either, as they would have us believe that Iranians are just months away from putting a nuclear warhead they don’t have on a North Korean missile that doesn’t really work, unless killing a bunch of tuna somewhere in the Pacific qualifies as a successful launch.

Here is the “Soviet approach”.