First round in Internet war goes to Iranian intelligence

Millions of sympathizers around the world looked forward to seeing Iran’s protest movement using the Internet for the first online coup in history. Instead, the Iranian Islamic regime turned the tables: Its Internet police, arguably the largest in the world, pushed “control,” “halt,” “delete” and “send” buttons to activate a deadly weapon for suppressing the movement, as soon as it took to the streets to protest the June 12 election which was believed to have given Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a false victory.
By Sunday, June 28, when the Guardian Council was to hand down its final verdict on their complaints, the street rallies had petered out.
Part of the reason, debkafile‘s intelligence sources report, was their organizers’ heavy reliance on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and other social sites to orchestrate their protest movement. They did not at first appreciate that Iranian intelligence Internet experts, operating from secret headquarters established months ago, were using their communications to shoot them down.
According to our sources, that headquarters is located at the telecom center on Sepah (Khomenei) Square in Tehran. It was built for the Shah in the 1970s by the Israel construction contractors Solel Boneh and designed by Israeli intelligence and telecommunications experts.
The high-end apparatus, installed in late 2008 by the German Siemens AG and Finnish Nokia Corp. cell phone giant, gave Iranian intelligence the most advanced tools anywhere for controlling, inspecting, censoring and altering Internet and cell phone messaging. Those tools were being used weeks before the poll to identify penetrations by alien spy services, their local agents and dissident activists.
This system is capable of conducting “deep packet inspection” of every type of text and video communication in all parts of Iran on three tracks:
1. Like other advanced electronic spy systems in the world, this one uses such keywords as attack, weapons, cash, data, explosives, meeting, demonstration, resistance, protest, etc. to alert Iran within milliseconds to feeds of interest by computer or phone – mail, signals or visuals.
In a flash, intelligence analysts get a fix on the sender and the electronic addressee which are then placed on a surveillance list for further monitoring. Once identified, the sender or receiver and their connections are closely shadowed by field agents.
2. By “deep packet inspection,” the secret controllers can cause delays in online data transfers, which surfers may attribute to glitches connected with their providers. The more targets under surveillance, the more online transfers are slowed down.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that the day after the presidential poll and resulting street outbreaks, Iran’s Internet control and tracking supervisors took over the 10 leading service providers in the country. Their first action was to slow down incoming and outgoing cyber traffic from 1,500 to 54 kilobytes to make sure that not a single byte by Internet or cell phone to or from protest leaders escaped their notice.
Tehran has vented its ire on Britain because it is accused of providing the organizers of the dissident movement with London telephone numbers to circumvent the deliberate slowdown of online traffic from inside the country. These numbers gave anti-government activists instant, direct links through Western Internet providers for getting their messages out to the world. Iran suspects they were laid on by British intelligence.
Eventually, the British lines became jammed by overload.
3. Iranian intelligence made cynical use of the large amount of electronic and personal data accumulated on anti-regime elements. Instead of detaining their prey at once, Iranian intelligence invaded their computers and cell phones to plant false leads for smoking unsuspecting activists out in the open and keeping them under inspection.
Within a few days of their protest, Mir Hossein Mousavi and the bulk of his supporters, realizing their electronic campaign had been taken over by the regime to hunt them down, disappeared from the streets of Tehran.
Wednesday, June 24, when the extent of the damage the Iranian Internet invasion had inflicted on American interests was brought home to him, US secretary of defense Robert Gates ordered a special cyber defense system set up to protect the US armed forces’ 15,000 Web sites, which encompass seven million computers. Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency, was put in charge of getting the new system up and running by the end of 2010.
Tuesday, June 23, a group of US senators led by the Republic presidential candidate John McCain and independent Joe Lieberman initiated legislation to fund a cyber defense system capable of combating Internet assaults like the one mounted by the Iranian government.

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