September 21, 2012
Iran Decides To Create Their Own Version Of The Internet
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Iran has devised what they believe to be the most effective way to protect themselves from cyber attacks launched by terrorist hackers and outside governments: They´ll create their own version of the Internet.
Iran has been under attack several times in recent years from other countries, such as those in North Africa and America, in response to Iran´s nuclear program. Such an internal ℠net could bring these attacks to a close and allow Iran to move without accountability or scrutiny.
The idea of a self-contained Internet isn´t a new one in the Middle-Eastern country, as Iran has been contemplating such a network for nearly 10 years now. Though such a move could prevent further attacks on the country, the cost to build out this network could be a hefty one. In addition to building out the infrastructure and laying the groundwork for this massive project, the country would also have to devise and then pay for a security system to ensure these attackers aren´t allowed access.
While the significant cost of this plan still needs to be considered, the minister of communication and information technology last month revealed his plans to move “key government agencies” and portions of the military to this private network by the end of the September.
U.S. security researchers have confirmed these plans, saying they´re already seeing evidence of this kind of undertaking.
These researchers, who work with the University of Pennsylvania´s Center for Global Communication Studies, have released a report this week covering Iran´s movements and their plans to create this internal Internet. In it, the researchers say they´ve already found operational versions of sites for Iranian government agencies, as well as some businesses and universities. According to the report, email providers are already in place on this private Internet, with more than 10,000 devices currently connected to the system.
These researchers were also able to determine the maker of the components that comprise the new network: Chinese firm Huawei. According to the Washington Post, this network is already “internally consistent and widely reachable.”
Huawei, however, is claiming they haven´t sold any equipment to Iran, saying further that Iran doesn´t support their monitoring equipment.
“Huawei only sells commercial equipment built to global standards to commercial operators,” writes William Plummer.
“We have concerns from not only a human rights perspective, but about the integrity of the Internet,” said David Baer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for the State Department´s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in an interview with the Post.
“When countries section off parts of the Web, not only do their citizens suffer, everyone does.”
Though Iran wants to operate on their own network, one security researcher in DC claims keeping this network private will take some work and, therefore, the American government should continue to monitor Iran´s actions.
“Internet freedom is a cat-and-mouse game – bad actors will always think of new ways to thwart the aspirations of the public,” said Colin Anderson, the report´s lead author.
“People and organizations have to remain vigilant to the ever-changing environment in order to support those who want to fight back against isolation.”
Iran´s nuclear program was attacked last June by the Stuxnet virus, a malicious piece of software created and unleashed by the American government, with help from the Israeli government. Originally, Stuxnet was meant to only target the Iranian nuclear program, attacking the nuclear centrifuges by shaking them apart. Though it was designed to remain contained within the Natanz nuclear refining facility, it managed to slip out into the regular, open Internet, becoming a very real threat.