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.


Iranian Hackers Attack Iranian Government Portals & Banks

The IRGC Organized Cyber Crime Investigation Center have reported that over 3,000 Iranian websites have been hacked by a group called the Mafia Hacking Team.

According to Tasnim news, IRGC Organized Cyber Crime Investigation Center spokesman Mostafa Alizadeh stated that, “The person who recently hacked state bodies’ websites managed to access banks’ data bases, including 3,000 pay slips… the person who introduced themselves as ‘Mafia Hacking Team’ in cyberspace and hacked websites of state bodies had identified well-known sites more than a year ago”

Alizadeh also added that, “This hacker tried to make these bodies realize that the security hole that exists in their portals but they did not pay any attention to this”. In other words, Iran has been caught with her cyber-underwear exposed and is very red faced!

Mostafa Alizadeh stated that the attacker had also hacked various bank information, but did not publish the information (including 3,000 payslips) as the attacker “did not have criminal intentions”, according to Alizadeh.
So it seems that Mafia Hacking Team are not black hat hackers but perhaps gray hat hackers?

The IRGC said that of the 3,000 websites attacked, 38 were Government sites, including the National Organization for Civil Registration (reported by the Iranian Young Journalists Club), Roads and Urban Development, Customs, Industries and Mines organizations. In addition, 370 University sites were also attacked.

Alizadeh was at least honest enough to admit that those “organizations do not use firewalls and lack enough experts for updating their security means”. Not the best cyber security policy perhaps…