Iran has developed a native firewall to neutralise Stuxnet and other computer viruses that might threaten its industry and infrastructure, IRNA reported on May 16, citing Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi.
Iran is no stranger to computer viruses and hacks—the Stuxnet computer worm, widely believed to have been developed by the US and Israel, was discovered in 2010 after it was successfully used to attack a uranium enrichment facility at Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. Brought into a closed network via a USB memory drive from an infected home computer, it was the first publicly known example of a virus being used to attack industrial machinery.
The Iranians, facing an increasingly aggressive sanctions attack from the US as well as an American military build-up in the Gulf region seen by Tehran as “psychological warfare” that could lead to military clashes if hawks in the Trump administration have their way, are on high alert for further and intensified computer virus attacks from their enemies. They are representing the locally developed firewall as part of their first line of defence in the battle with Washington, which is backed by Tel Aviv and Riyadh in its attempt at strangling Iran’s economy to force concessions in Tehran’s Middle East policy.
“Iran's university scientists have developed a firewall for industrial automation systems to neutralise industrial sabotage such as that caused by Stuxnet in power networks, and it was successfully tested,” Azari-Jahromi said on his Twitter account.
Several dozen attacks
Iranian infrastructure has been the target of several dozen digital attacks in recent years. Last November, according to Azari-Jahromi, a Stuxnet attack failed to harm Iran’s communications infrastructures. He accused Israel of being behind it. Israel declines to comment on whether or not it is involved in a cyberwar on Iran.
Sanctions mean Iran cannot legally obtain products from computer server manufacturers such as US-based Cisco and Dell. The country has relied heavily on the smuggling of server units via dozens of other countries in recent years in order to keep its internet industry active.
Previously, many Cisco units were shipped to order to the country via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
In October, Iran said it was bracing itself against outside efforts at disconnecting it from the internet, Tasnim news agency reported, quoting the chief of Iran’s National Passive Defense Organization (NPDO) Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali as saying.
The Islamic Republic was slow to adopt the internet, but in recent years it has upgraded to 4G mobile telephone services, which have boosted internet provision and e-commerce ventures. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the country has taken measures to secure its internal networks with the so-called National Information Network (NIN), which runs in parallel to regular internet lines.