Tag: Iran

Iran turns blind eye to VPNs

Nelson at the Battle of CopenhagenAlthough Iran makes a big deal of its censorship policies and is even talking about building its own internet to keep the western riff-raff out, it seems to be ignoring a booming anti-censorship market.

Apparently there is so much money involved that the same government authorities that do the censoring then turn around and allow the sale of censorship-beating software to make a bit of cash.

Anti-censorship technology is illegal in Iran, but many VPNs are sold openly, allowing Iranians to bounce around censorship and seemingly render it ineffective.

According to the Daily Dot nearly 70 percent of young Iranians are using VPNs and a Google search for “buy VPN” in Persian returns two million results.

Ironically Iran’s Cyber Police (FATA) have waged a high-volume open war against the VPNs, but this seems to be for show.

In fact, that you can use Iran’s government-sanctioned payment gateways (Pardakht Net, Sharj Iran, Jahan Pay & Baz Pardakht) to buy the tools that’ll beat the censors.

Independent Iranian media have reported that “elements within the government and the Revolutionary Guard provide support to a number of VPN sellers,” according to a 2014 report from Small Media.

“Reports hypothesise that this is a mutually profitable arrangement; lining the pockets of officials at the same time as it allows VPN sellers to continue in their work without the threat of state interference.”


Iran expands smart censorship

Achaemenid_Elite_ImmortalsThe former religiously tolerant Achaemenid empire, which became the religiously less tolerant Sassanid Empire before becoming the cross-eyed religiously intolerant Iran wants to expand its policy of “smart filtering” of the Internet.

For those who came in late, the Iranians have a policy of censoring undesirable content on websites without banning them completely.

The policy appears to follow President Hassan Rouhani’s push to loosen some social restrictions, but it was not clear if it would mean more or less internet freedom. Iranians on Twitter expressed concern that, as part of the new policy, the government would try to block VPN access to such sites.

Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi said  that this smart filtering plan is implemented only on one social network in its pilot study phase and this process will continue gradually until the plan is implemented on all networks.

He appeared to be referring to Instagram, the photo-sharing site owned by Facebook, which is already being filtered, but not blocked.

“Implementing the smart filtering plan, we are trying to block the criminal and unethical contents of the Internet sites, while the public will be able to use the general contents of those sites,” Vaezi told a news conference.

The policy would be fully in place by June 2015, he said.

What they are after is snaps of porn to images of women not wearing the mandatory Islamic dress as well is politically damaging comments.

The Iranian government has been worried by the rise of social media.  It was used in the anti-government protests of 2009 to organise and spread news about a movement that was eventually crushed by security forces.

Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, floated the idea of replacing the unternet with a national intranet that would not be connected to the worldwide web, however that seemed a little too silly to fly.


Iran owns the internet – report

cleaverA US security company claims that Iran has virtual control over a large number of vital defence and infrastructure sites on the web.

Cylance said in a report that its “Operation Cleaver” investigation reveals that an Iranian team called Tarh Andishan has built an infrastructure to spy, steal and destroy control systems and networks.

It said that Iranian hackers have directly attacked government agencies and infrastructure companies in Canada, China, the US, the UK, France, Germany, India, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey and the UAE.

It claims the HQ of the operation in Tehran also has other members in countries including the UK, the Netherlands and Canada.

The report claims that Iran has reacted to malware campaigns directed upon it since 2009, targeted at its nuclear programme and its oil and gas operations.

Iran is also claimed to have attacked banks, Israeli national systems, US Navy computers and other systems.

Infrastructure under theft includes US military targets, oil, gas and chemical companies, airports, healthcare, aerospace and defence companies.

You can find the full report here.

Grand Ayatollah blasts high-speed internet

Detail showing fleeing Persians (King Darius centre) from an AncThe nation which once led the world with its technological expertise is now blasting high-speed internet connections as against its religion.

A Grand Ayatollah in Iran has been looking up his copy of the Koran and decided that access to high-speed and 3G Internet is “against Sharia” and “against moral standards”.

Writing in his bog, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, one of the country’s highest clerical authorities, issued a fatwa, stating: “All third generation and high-speed internet services, prior to realisation of the required conditions for the National Information Network, is against Sharia and against moral and human standards.”

Internet access has been an ongoing struggle between Iran’s hardliners, who retain key bases of power in the judicial, intelligence and security branches of government and wish to maintain strict censorship and control over all information. The problem is that more than half of the country’s 42 million Iranians use the internet.

Authorities frequently slow the speed of the internet as a means to render it effectively useless, thereby depriving the citizenry of the online access it needs for professional, educational, and commercial use. But at least their souls are safe and no one can get the information needed to question authority.

The Grand Ayatollah’s ruling might cause a few problems for president Hassan Rouhani who has said that Iranian people deserve better than to wait for information on the internet.

Conservative, religious, and security organisations and officials are terrified that they will lose control of their population if a faster internet is introduced. The also want the development of the National Information Network, (National Intranet) which was begun under the previous Ahmadinejad administration and will give the government total control over Internet access inside Iran.

Sony resellers avoid Iran embargos

iranSony’s resellers in Dubai could be creating the company a ton of hurt by flogging shedloads of gear to Iran.

The company has admitted that some dealers in Dubai resold about $12.8 million worth of its gear to Iranian ministries, in a move that could possibly attract US fines.

Equipment was sold to Iran’s broadcasting unit and health ministry, and Sony found some also planned to sell equipment to the information technology department of the country’s police.

In a filing with the US regulator, Sony admitted that if the US was to get nasty about it, it could cost the company a fortune.

Sony said it did its best to follow policies and procedures designed to keep transactions with Iran in line with applicable economic sanctions laws.

However it did not appear to have much in the way of controls to stop its resellers shipping the gear to Iran.

It listed four Iran-related transactions, in three of which it made net profit of less than $500,000, while taking a loss in the fourth.

Sony does not appear too concerned about it.  According to Reuters it has revealed that it may conduct additional future sales in Iran through third-party owned dealers or distributors, which may require disclosure under US laws.

Iran proudly shows off stealth jet and folk fall for it

iranian-fake-jet-1The Iranian PR machine pulled off another stunt over the weekend, proudly proclaiming that the country’s top boffins managed to develop a super advanced fighter jet. Dubbed the Qaher F-313, the mockup was unveiled during a ceremony to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution and quite a few dignitaries turned up to spice up the show, including President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

State media covering the event were quick to point out that the plane was indigenously designed and produced in Iran. Vahidi said the jet could evade radar thanks to its very low radar cross section and its capability to conduct low-level operations. Press TV reports that the aircraft is similar to the F/A-18 and the F-5E/F Tiger II, although it looks nothing like the two Northrop designed planes. In fact, the mockup looks like the lovechild of an F-35 and X-36, with one small difference. Iran’s stealth jet is a fake, and a bad one at that.

The images show a tiny jet with an oversized cockpit. The canopy material seems to be plexiglass and the cockpit is just plain ridiculous. It features a mix of cheap avionics for homebuilt aircraft, including an audio panel, transponder and NAV/COM courtesy of Garmin. Basically it is the sort of thing some ultra-light enthusiast would botch together in a shed. The avionics don’t even appear to be wired. The canopy mechanism is all wrong and even the size of the cockpit is ridiculous, as it doesn’t appear to be spacious enough to accommodate a pilot.

The air intakes are tiny, the wing doesn’t look like any airfoil NACA would bless with its stamp of approval, even on a bad day. There is no engine on board, either. The skin of the aircraft also looks funny, with plenty of imperfections on all surfaces. It also features huge, fixed canards and a tiny nose, way too small to accommodate a decent radar. It looks like something straight out of a video game and we would love to meet the poor coder who is supposed to develop its fly-by-wire software.

However, in spite of everything, plenty of journalists and anti-globalist conspiracy kooks fell for it, in what can only be described as a stunning display of gullibility. Some even went on to say that Iran already has a functioning prototype, since they couldn’t tell the difference between a tiny RC model shown in a state TV video and a 5th generation fighter jet. Apparently the sound of a screeching turbofan dubbed over the footage was enough to fool them.

Iran has a long tradition of rolling out vaporware and countless paper projects. Iranian spinners often talk about fancy defence projects, including indigenous tanks, missiles and superfast torpedoes. Most of them never get built in any significant numbers, so Iran’s defence projects are a bit like Google’s Nexus gear. In this case, it’s more of a paper mache affair than a paper project.

On a related note, last month Iran announced that it managed to send a monkey into space and bring it back safely to the earth. However, western observers now claim there is no evidence that the suborbital flight was successful. Iran released some press photos of the monkey, but on closer inspection it turned out that the images show two different animals. One of them apparently bought the farm.