Feeds

BBC links Iran to cyber-war against Persian telly service

'Jammed satellite link, phone lines and networks'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The BBC is linking a "sophisticated cyber-attack" against its Persian service to intimidation from the Iranian authorities.

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson will reveal today that a run of digital assaults accompanied the jamming of the Beeb's satellite feeds into Iran and automated calls against phone lines in London used by the Auntie's Persian service.

In an extract of a speech due to be given to the Royal Television Society, Thompson acknowledges the difficulty of attributing blame because the assault via compromised proxies could have been orchestrated from any country:

It is difficult, and may prove impossible, to confirm the source of these attacks, though attempted jamming of BBC services into Iran is nothing new and we regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious.

It now looks as if those who seek to disrupt or block BBC Persian may be widening their tactics.

Thompson is expected to talk about a systematic campaign to intimidate staff into leaving the BBC Persian service. In one such incident, the sister of a Beeb worker was arrested and held in solitary confinement by the Iranian authorities.

Some parts of the BBC were unable to access email and other internet services on 1 March, the BBC's online news service reports. However official corporate spokespeople declined to confirm whether or not this was the practical outcome of the reported cyber-attack.

A Reporters Without Borders Enemies of the Internet report out this week cites Iran for all sorts of transgressions against open internet access including censoring content, locking up internet users and blocking ports used by virtual private networks.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard created a "cyber army" that may have at least 2,400 members, according to one of the few estimates by US defence intelligence analysts. The unit is reportedly responsible for blocking opposition communications and tracking down opposition supporters as well as launching external attacks. Assaults on Israeli websites, a DNS hijack attack against Twitter and the infamous DigiNotar hack have been tracked to Iran.

Whether any of these assaults were carried out by military units or patriotic hackers remains unclear.

Ross Brewer, managing director at security tools vendor LogRhythm, commented: "Nation states are honing their cyber warfare and cyber espionage skills, and such activity can only be expected to increase. As a result, the accurate attribution of cyber attacks has never been more important."

He added: "Mark Thompson has highlighted the difficulty involved with this task, however, without confirmation of the source of attacks, inaccurate finger-pointing can and often does occur. When this happens between nation states, already-tense diplomatic conflicts can be inflamed and may even incite military aggression."

More security commentary on the cyber-attacks against the BBC's service can be found in a blog post by Graham Cluley of Sophos here. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.