Iran’s “National Internet” Project: Doomed to Fail.

The National Internet aka Intranet

Iran has rolled out the start of the “National Internet” Project for all Iranian citizens to “enjoy”. According to Tasnim news agency, the national internet operates independently of all others networks (in other words, the Internet we all know and love)and is designed to operate domestically.

The national internet was started in 2005(delayed by increased costs and delays)and the final two phases are due to be completed by 2017. The second phase will add cutting-edge content such as videos. Expect that in February 2017. The third and final phase will include among other things, services for Iranian business with international services. Err…

Filternet: it’s all over

The previous attempt by the Iranian regime known as the “filternet” or the “smart web” (designed to limit access to the evil parts of the existing internet), has failed miserably because it is easy for Iranians to use proxy servers or VPN connections to get around the “filters” put in place by the regime.  

Mahmoud Vaezi: filternet was all his fault

Iran‘s Communications and Information Technology minister Mahmoud Vaezi was behind the smart web filtering project, but he now says that the “filternet” is inefficient. So, he’s really saying it has not worked. And it’s all his fault. You can see here that Vaezi thought “filternet” was a great success, while hypocritically using foreign companies to help set it up. Confused? No doubt Vaezi will have to wipe the egg off his face when not only the “filternet” but also the national internet, fails to stop Iranians from accessing sites on the WWW.

Iran seems fine with the hypocrisy that use of a Californian company’s SmartFilter was used in the development of “filternet”…

Why bother?

To replace “filternet”, the national internet is deliberately meant to create an isolated domestic intranet for Islamic content and also attempt to improve cyber security (by not exposing Iranians to the evil Western Internet).

Well, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani thinks it will magically strengthen the independence of the country. At a meeting of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, according to the Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA), Rouhani said that Iranian independence is increased by “not relying on external information networks for internal communications in today’s world”.

Hassan Rouhani: backing the National Internet

Rouhani vainly tries to convince Iranians (no one is falling for it), that they will play a more active role in furthering Iran’s role in the world if Iranians get access to a, “national, trustworthy, stable, high-quality and secure network” (cyber security in Iran is a bit of a hot topic in a post-Stuxnet world).

What this really means is that Iranians are meant to only be able to access content that is delivered from within Iran, with all servers being based in Iran.

Don’t panic

Like the failure of the existing “filternet”, the “National Internet” will NOT be able to control Iranian access to the wider, “unclean” Internet. Why not? Well, if filters can be easily bypassed, so can this. If Iran cannot control use of Telegram for example (Telegram has no servers in Iran), does she really think control can be made otherwise? 

Less computer-literate people may not normally be able to access sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. but such sites can still be accessible using means such as described above.


Iran Cyber Attack Feared Soon

Fears are growing that Iran will release cyber warfare on US companies if negotiators fail to reach a nuclear deal by Monday that would require Iran limits its nuclear program.
Cyber-attacks from Tehran dropped after the US, Iran and other countries agreed an interim nuclear deal in 2013, but if discussions in Vienna failed before a November. 24 deadline, observers expect a new series of attacks.
American financial companies, oil and gas companies and water filtration systems could be among the targeted companies. 
The US has not yet faced the full force of Iran’s rapidly developing cyber capabilities. Iran initially increased its cyber efforts in 2010 and launched a barrage of simplistic attacks on the US financial sector in 2012. Detecting such relatively harmless attacks was easy.  
Over the last two years, Iran has formed a Supreme Council of Cyberspace that meets once a month and includes President Hassan Rouhani.
Iranian officials also strengthened cybersecurity research partnerships with Russia and Iran has gone from a nascent to a burgeoning cyber power.
Security company FireEye described that one popular Iranian hacking group went from website defacements in 2010 to “malware-based espionage” in just four years.
It is reported that Iranian hackers attacked oil giant Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company, and deleted the contents of 30,000 computers. The same virus also hit Qatar-based liquid petroleum gas firm RasGas.
While the US is bombarded with cyber attacks, it has never been the subject of a large-scale destructive attack. So far Tehran’s hackers are mostly suspected of probing around US infrastructure networks to understand their designs.
But if the nuclear talks fell apart that could change. And this time an Iranian attack could be more advanced.

Iran Uses “Smart filtering” to Partially “ease” Internet Censorship

Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi said on Wednesday that Iran plans to introduce “smart filtering” which only keeps out sites which the Islamic government considers them to be immoral to loosen internet censorship.
Internet use is high in Iran partly because many young Iranians use the internet to bypass an official ban on western cultural products and Tehran occasionally filters popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Censorship has weakened somewhat since Hassan Rouhani was elected last year as a moderate and the smart filter initiative seems to reflect this.
Vaezi said: “We have signed agreements with three universities and research institutes to develop smart filtering to block only depraved and immoral sites but allow access to other pages,” but without naming the organisations involved.
Mehr news agency quoted Vaezi who said to journalists: “Smart filtering is used for specific targets only and presently the project is undergoing experiments.” 
The minister did not make clear what would be considered depraved and immoral, but Iranian clerics frequently use the terms to mean anything from pictures of women in revealing Western clothing to outright pornography.
But he dismissed rumours that Tehran will start filtering the latest teen fashion, WhatsApp Messenger instant messaging service. He added: “What is being said about this matter is mainly nonsense, propaganda.”
Also the Mehr report did not mention the latest internet fashion, a Facebookpage where women post pictures of themselves without their obligatory headscarf.
Cyberspace has been a controversial phenomenon in the Islamic Republic like satellite television and music videos in earlier decades because of political and also moral concerns.
Many in the conservative clerics long opposed the introduction of internet into Iran and since its debut, demanded tighter supervision.
Their offensive peaked during a crackdown on freedom of speech after the mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 2009.