Iran Cyber Attack on Nuclear Facilities Leads Regime To Threaten Shutting Down the Internet

According to an Iranian nuclear scientist working at the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, the country’s nuclear infrastructure has allegedly been the target of yet another cyber attack.

The attack was said to have struck the Natanz and Fordo nuclear facilities, bringing down their automation networks, and had programmed some workstations to blare AC/DC’s hit song “Thunderstruck” at max volume. 

In response, Iranian leaders appear to be fed up with the Internet altogether. Iran’s Ministry of Communications has decided to cut off key government ministries from access to the Internet by September and plans to launch a domestic intranet that is a completely closed loop, which would leave Iranian citizens without access to the World Wide Web, effectively cutting them off from the rest of the world.

Iran is notorious for leveling empty threats and announcing plans for the future that never come to fruition. It is difficult to cut the Internet off from an entire country, especially one as large as Iran, with as many savvy Internet users as it has. Even still, Iran did successfully slow its Internet to a crawl during the massive Green party protests of 2009, making it difficult to tweet, upload video, YouTube, and utilize other methods of communication with the outside world.

In this situation, even circumvention technology, which is meant to get around certain firewalls and other blocking techniques setup by the government, has proven almost useless. But there are other, state-of-the-art Internet access technologies being developed – with substantial State Department funding – that are nearly impossible to detect or disable.

Enter, “Internet in a Suitcase,” just one of the many technologies being implemented to ensure that dissidents, protesters, and resistance movements alike can share information among themselves and with the outside world. The system creates a mesh network that uses cellphones and powerful antennae to create a network in which information can be shared with any other device connected to it and to the Internet.

Given this relatively new technology and others like it, Iran may have an increasingly difficult time silencing protesters and anti-regime proponents. These tools will prove invaluable if and when the Green party in Iran rises again, providing a desperately needed line to the outside world to share videos and pictures of regime brutality that will help foment sympathy from the outside, helping to exert pressure on Iran’s leadership inside.

The horrific and emotional story of Neda Agha Soltan’s murder during the 2009 protests shook the world, and Neda became a martyr in a war against oppression by Iran’s brutish regime. Without the ability to communicate outside of Iran’s borders, stories like hers would not have been heard, and the Western world’s eyes would not have been opened to what average Iranians are dealing with as a part of every day life.

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Joseph Sarkisian

Joseph graduated with a Master of Science in international relations from the University of Massachusetts Boston and was an intern at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. He completed his BA at Arizona State University in political science as well as studied Arabic language, terrorism/counterterrorism, and religion. Joseph also lived in Egypt where he studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo in 2007. Joseph was the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Government, a teaching assistant in his department, and teaches a class on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. His main areas of interest are the Af/Pak region, Iran, Syria, and other current foreign policy issues.

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