The Iranian Resistance has actively engaged in the defense of the Iranian people’s right to the free flow of information and access to social networking and messaging platforms to engage in freedom of association, expression, and thought.
The technical work carried out by the Iranian Resistance has facilitated many millions of Iranians free access to information that is otherwise blocked and filtered by the clerical dictatorship. The establishment of critical proxies and VPN gateways has been a boon for activists and dissidents during the ongoing uprising and protests. The proxies and gateways receive nearly millions of hits per day.
A very popular platform has been a technical help site that has guided Iranian activists in the details of how to circumvent the regime’s filtering and blocking technology.
The NCRI representative office in the US published an authoritative report on the Iranian regime’s coordinated program to produce malware and surveillance apps, as well as infected Telegram look-alike apps to fool Iranian users to download and install so they could come under regime surveillance. The report outlined a multi-billion dollar effort by dozens of IRGC related software shops to develop apps that act as a frontend to regime surveillance of user private data and information. Prior to the reports publication shady applications published from Iran by IRGC and MOIS affiliated developers had infested popular app stores and provided an easy method to deploy the regime’s intelligence gathering tentacles throughout Iranian and also other communities worldwide.
Following the publication of the report in January 2018, and ensuing outreach to Google and Apple, the tech giants purged numerous bogus regime apps from Google Playstore and Appstore thereby helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem for Iranian users.
The Iranian Resistance also works tirelessly to identify and responsibly report abuse by regime created accounts engaging in disinformation, fraud, and intelligence gathering. These activities have led to thousands of fake accounts being discovered and closed by Twitter, Google, Facebook, and other social networking platforms.
The Iranian regime invests in cyber technology, infrastructure and training. It continues to expand its cyber warfare capabilities globally. The regime engages Western companies (businesses in US, Canada, and Europe) to gain access to technology and expertise to conduct cyber warfare for these goals:
Iranian officials use communication tools and social media applications developed in the United States such as Twitter and Facebook while denying or restricting usage by the public.
Regime’s cyber policy views the Internet as an enemy tool and access for Iranians is government controlled and censored. Use of messaging platforms based outside of Iran through VPNs has allowed the Iranian people to enjoy private communications removed from traditional eavesdropping and surveillance by the regime’s intelligence services. There are more than 40 million mobile users of messaging platforms such as Telegram in Iran.
Iran first experiments, tests, and optimizes its cyber-attacks on its own citizens before deploying elsewhere. Cyber spying on internal political factions is also within its scope and practice, and results in intimidation, blackmailing, disruption, exfiltration, and destruction. The same bad actors responsible for attacks against targets abroad also conduct surveillance of protesters and human rights defenders at home.
Iran’s cyberwarfare units are under the exclusive oversight of IRGC and MOIS with direct reporting to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (NCRI revelation on March 25, 2016).
The exhibition spotlights some of the regime’s cyber warfare activities as relates to Iranians and the international community at large.