Tag: ministry

Iran wastes time blocking VPNs

An outfit which runs a VPN service for Iranian customers said that attempts by the government to block the service over the weekend have failed.

Iran tried to block VPN ports all over the country to stop citizens seeing banned sites like Facebook and Skype.

But the owner of a Brazilian VPN says that it has been unaffected.

Joshua Van Raalte told TechEye that the users of the “Hide My Ass” free proxy have not been affected.

He thinks that this latest attempt at internet restriction is likely to be largely futile.

Van Raalte said that the block on VPNs was confirmed by a local protester on Facebook which is supposed to be a banned site in Iran.

“The Chinese government has also spent years and millions of dollars on technology intended to block VPNs, and yet they still get through regardless,” Van Raalte said.

He added that the provision of proxy technology, tools and software has so far managed to evade all attempts at censorship.

More than 1,200 Iranians use HMA’s free proxy service every week, even though it is officially “blocked” by the Iranian government.

Van Raalte said that HMA will continue to support users from Iran as much as it can in order to promote openness, and the global freedom of expression provided by the internet. 

Iran will lop off your VPN for network adultery

The Iranian government has worked out a way to cut off those people who used VPNs to bypass the countries ludicrous censorship laws.

Many Iranians use proxy servers over virtual private networks to circumvent government restrictions and mask their activities. Officials claim they have blocked use of the “illegal” tool by closing down “illegal VPN ports” in the country.

Ramezanali Sobhani-Fard, the head of parliament’s information and communications technology committee, told  Reuters: “Only legal and registered VPNs can from now on be used.”

It is not clear how much of this is possible as we suspect that there will be opposition groups that will work their way around any technology that the Iranians can throw at them. What is more likely is that the control of VPNs has less to do with controlling dissidents but more about forcing companies to buy government backed products.

Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace is planning to flog “official” and “legal” VPN services to companies and corporations that needed them for security.

Of course this means that all corporations will have to run their businesses through government servers which will make them a lot easier to spy on.

Council Secretary Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi told the Tehran Chronicle last month that by launching this program, the Iranian government can “prosecute” users who are violating state laws and the Internet Filtering Committee can take offenders to national courts.

The government probably wants all its plans in place before June when there is going to be a presidential election. It is expected that the government will try to switch off the Internet to stop people complaining about the status quo and organising opposition. 

Iran hit by new cyber attack

Iran claims to have repelled a fresh cyber attack on its industrial units in a southern province.

A local civil defence official said that “enemies” of the country had been carrying out nonstop attacks against its infrastructure.

The ISNA news agency quoted Ali Akbar Akhavan as saying that the virus had penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormuzgan province, but thanks to the efforts of some skilled Iranian hackers its  progress was halted.

Akhavan claimed that the malware was “Stuxnet-like” but did not elaborate.  The virus had been placed inside machines over “past few months.”

Iran is a little sensitive about malware attacks after Stuxnet, knocked out a big chunk of Iran’s uranium enrichment operation.

IN this case the virus targeted Bandar Abbas Tavanir, which oversees electricity production and distribution in Hormuzgan and adjacent provinces.

However there is a lot of information in the announcement.  It is not clear when the attacks started to happen, how the virus was spread and what damage it did.

According to Security Week,  the matter was made muddier because soon after Akhavan’s announcement has been swiftly denied by er Akhavan himself. He claimed that he only held the press conference we announced readiness to confront cyber-attacks against Hormuzgan installations, which was mistakenly reported by the agencies as a cyber-attack having been foiled.

Iran blames the US and Israel for nearly every cyber attack that happens in the country.  In April, it said a voracious virus attack had hit computers running key parts of its oil sector and succeeded in wiping data off official servers.

US claims Iran is firing cyber weapons of mass distraction

Desperate for a reason to invade Iran, the US military establishment is using its latest bugbear of cyber warfare as its latest pretext.

Last week the US military warned that it could  act to stop a cyber war and Defence Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that the United States was at risk of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” This followed early mutterings that cyber war could be could be countered with conventional weaponry a year ago.

Now according to the New York Times, US spooks have claimed that Iran was the place of origin of a serious wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in the United States.

Instead of weapons of mass destruction, US spooks have focused on a “cybercorps” that Iran’s military created in 2011. This was partly in response to American and Israeli cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz.

The attacks emanating from Iran have been modest and the country is a lot weaker than China and Russia. But the US does not want desperately to go to war with China or Russia.

However the US does feel the need to get involved anytime that oil is mentioned.. The biggest hack was on Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. The War on Iraq was against the Saudi’s enemies and an oil rival and now it seems that that the Saudis are not big fans of Iran either.

Aramco, the Saudi state oil company, has been bolstering supplies to customers who can no longer obtain oil from Iran because of Western sanctions. 

Iran blocks Google and Gmail

Tehran is claiming that its move to block access to Google and Gmail is in reaction to an anti-Islam film that triggered protests across the world.

The movie, Innocence of Muslims, which appears to have been created to start riots in Arab countries, has placed Google in a position where Iran wanted. The Iranians had wanted a pretext to ban Google from Iran for a while, but really did not have a good reason until YouTube refused to take down the anti-Islam film.

Now the Iranian government can safely say they are saving Iranians from the evil Satanic Google.

According to the Guardian, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an Iranian official with the state-run body in charge of online censorship and computer crimes, said that Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice.

He did not indicate if the filtering would be temporary or permanent, however smart money is on a total ban. The Iranians are currently planning to pull their country out of the Internet and run the nation as a big Intranet of state controlled information. Google and its webmail operation would have no place in such a scheme anyway.

Iranians do not really care that much about the movie, according to the Guardian, but are a bit miffed that they have lost their Gmail accounts.

Golnaz Esfandiari, who has a blog on the Radio Free Europe website, Persian Letters, tweeted: “By blocking Gmail/Google, #Iran government punishes its own people over anti-Islam movie. Most Iranians have not seen it/don’t care.”

But the move comes just as the Iranians move to stage one of their cunning Internet plan.

Ali Hakim-Javadi, deputy communications and technology minister, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency said that all governmental agencies and offices have been connected to the national information network.

Iran is worried about another outside cyber attack, particularly if it gets involved in a war with Israel or the US. 

Iran takes its ministries offline

The Iranian government has come up with a novel method of dealing with the US and Israeli government attempts to take its key departments offline by disconnecting them the world wide web.

According to the International Business Times, the Iranian government is taking key ministries and state agencies offline in the next month in a bid to protect sensitive information from cyber-attacks.

Lately the country has suffered from some high-profile attacks which have targeted Iran’s nuclear and oil facilities. Both attacks were carried out by the US government, according to a New York Times leak, working in conjunction with the Israeli government.

Now it seems that Reza Taghipour, Iran’s telecommunications minister, has decided that it is easier to protect sensitive intelligence by getting off the world wide web.

He said that the internet was untrustworthy because it was controlled by “one or two” countries hostile to Iran.

Taghipour told a conference at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University that Iranian spooks will create a situation where the precious intelligence of the country won’t be accessible to these powers. We guess he just means someone will pull a plug.

Iran wants to replace the web completely with a national intranet within the next 18 months. But in the meanwhile the plan is to take state agencies offline as the first step.

Of course it will not work that well. Stuxnet was actually installed manually into computer networks using a flash drive. If the Iranian government does get its intranet set up, it will contain any malware inside the country. The CIA and Mossad will not have to worry about infecting any allies as any malware will stay inside the Iranian network. 

Japan cracks down on Apple over iPod overheating

Japan has ordered Apple to explain numerous incidents of its iPod Nano overheating, which in some cases caused burns to customers.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) pulled no punches with the Cupertino-based tech company, ordering its Japanese office to get to the bottom of the overheating problem and provide details of it by the deadline of the 4th of August.

According to Seiji Shimagami, a spokesperson for the Ministry, there have been at least 27 reported incidents of the iPod overheating in Japan alone. Four overheated so badly that the users suffered minor burns.

Japan has asked Apple for information on this problem before, but the matter is now escalating into a more serious affair. It said that it wants to prevent further incidents from occuring inside Japan, but also around the world, and that, depending on Apple’s response, it may order the company to recall the entire product until the problem is addressed.

It revealed that its warnings to Apple have been previously ignored, and it took a hardline approach on a recall, saying that all products in that line, faulty or not, must be exchanged. 

This is not something Apple will be keen to do; when problems with the iPhone 4 were unearthed its CEO, Steve Jobs, claimed it was a “non-issue” and still to this day holds the party line that there is nothing wrong. Nothing to see here, move along.

“We are taking METI’s letter in regard to the first generation iPod nano very seriously and are working closely with them to answer their concerns,” Apple said.