Major internet outage in Iran – report

Last week, Iran announced that it was investigating a foreign spying malware attack on government servers in the third cyberattack reported in the Islamic Republic within a week.

A computer engineer checks equipment at an internet service provider in Tehran February 15, 2011 (photo credit: CAREN FIROUZ / REUTERS)
A computer engineer checks equipment at an internet service provider in Tehran February 15, 2011
(photo credit: CAREN FIROUZ / REUTERS)
A major internet disruption in Iran has been fixed on Thursday, according to Iranian media and internet watchdog NetBlocks. During the outage, national connectivity levels fell below 50%.
Sajjad Banabi, vice president of the Iranian Telecommunications Infrastructure Company, stated that the issue was due to fiber optic lines from Europe and that they are now shifting users to the remaining healthy routes to the west and south, according to Iranian news agency ILNA.
Normal international communication should be restored soon as backup circuits are created and international routes are modified, said Banabi at 12:14 p.m. Israel time. NetBlocks confirmed at 3:00 p.m. Israel time that internet connectivity had returned to normal levels.
Google platforms in Eastern Europe experienced outages and began being restored at around the same times as the outage in Iran, according to NetBlock. It is unclear if the two outages are related.
Internal and external internet services were irregularly shut down in Isfahan, northern Iran and some central regions of Iran on Thursday, according to Radio Farda.
During widespread anti-government protests in November, Iran shut down internet access throughout the country.
Last week, Iran announced it was investigating a foreign spying malware attack on government servers in the third cyberattack reported in the Islamic Republic within a week.
Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, Tehran’s minister of communications and information technology, claimed “an organized cyberattack against Iran’s e-government infrastructures was identified and repelled by the security shield,” according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.

The suspects behind the attack were “tracked” and the victims of the attack have been identified, according to Jahromi.
Earlier, he announced another large-scale cyberattack organized by a foreign state had been thwarted by the country’s “security shield."
In a third cyberattack, the banking details of approximately 15 million Iranians were published on the Telegram messaging platform.
Jahromi claimed the Islamic Republic’s national cybersecurity wall – known as Digital Fortress, or Dezhfa – has helped thwart 33 million cyberattacks against the country in the past year, according to Fars.
Iran is currently in the process of developing a national intranet system, known as the National Information Network (NIN), in order to cut the country’s dependency on international cyberspace, according to Radio Farda. The network will also prevent Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) from helping Iranians bypass the Islamic Republic’s censorship of the Internet, as data requests will not be routed outside the country.
The plan was first announced in 2010 with an expected completion date in 2015. In May, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution announced the NIN is 80% complete.
“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 has already blocked access to tens of thousands of sites, including Twitter and Facebook, although many users use VPNs and proxy sites to bypass the filter.
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised the NIN would be strengthened so “people will not need foreign [networks] to meet their needs.”
The announcement came soon after the government temporarily shut down Internet access throughout the country during anti-government protests, sparking fears among Iranians they could soon be cut off from accessing the outside world through the Internet.
The intranet would allow the government to decide what content can be accessed by users, removing the need for absolute shutdowns like the one imposed during the protests.
Some Iranian newspapers warned the government against imposing such a decision on citizens, as things could easily spark out of control as they did after gasoline prices were raised in a sudden decision by the nation’s leadership, according to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an Iranian militant opposition group.
A state-run daily newspaper called the announcement a “threatening message to the people,” while another daily asked, “will the people and the private sector tolerate the Internet shutdown?”

Alex Winston contributed to this report.



Tags internet VPN