Widespread internet outage reported in Iran

It was not clear whether the disruption is part of Iran's plans to move to an internal intranet system or whether it was caused by a cyber-attack. The outage may also be a result of sanctions.

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June 27, 2019 02:21
2 minute read.
A computer engineer checks equipment at an internet service provider in Tehran February 15, 2011

A computer engineer checks equipment at an internet service provider in Tehran February 15, 2011. (photo credit: CAREN FIROUZ / REUTERS)

 
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A widespread internet outage in Iran was reported by NetBlocks on Wednesday night. International connectivity registered as low as 65% of normal levels during the night.

Many of Iran's internet providers were affected by the outage, according to NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization that monitors cybersecurity and internet governance.



The organization reported that data available indicates a purposeful or accidental cut in international connectivity. It was not clear whether the disruption is part of Iran's plans to move to an internal intranet system or whether it was caused by a cyber-attack. The outage may also be a result of sanctions by foreign companies that supply access to Iranian networks.

NetBlocks maps the entire IP address space of individual countries in real times. This shows internet outages corresponding to connectivity disruptions.

"Purposeful internet outages generally have a distinct network pattern," explained NetBlocks on their website. This pattern is used "to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage."

As of around 2 a.m. Israel time, the internet outage showed some signs of recovery with real-time network measurements showing overall accessibility at around 85%.



Iran has been working on an intranet system, known as Iran's national information network (ININ), since 2010, according to Radio Farda.

"All domestic activities, services, applications [and] various types of contents... are included in the national internet," said Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi at the inauguration event in 2016, according to the BBC.

Iran already has blocked access to tens of thousands of sites and services including Twitter and Facebook, although many users use virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy sites to bypass the filter.

The intranet is intended to promote Islamic content and raise digital awareness among the public.

Last February, Iran announced that they were going to conduct an "internet disconnection drill," according to Radio Farda, but the plan was delayed.

"The National Internet Project could pave the way for further isolation, surveillance and information retention," stated a report by the British human rights campaign group Article 19, according to the BBC. "[It] risks severely isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the online world, limiting access to information and constraining attempts at collective action and public protest."

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