IRGC hack opposition websites; Why?

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 24

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Kerman province announced on Dec. 22 that it had hacked nine anti-regime websites during a technical operation. Does the end justify the means?

While some of the websites that were hacked express Iran's reformist views, reformists want President Hassan Rouhani and his moderate administration to denounce the hacking.

"The hacked websites are totally close to the reformists and have been illegally hacked by the IRGC," professor of political science at Tehran University, Sadeq Zibakalam told Trend, expressing hope that Rouhani`s administration condemn the action.

Zibakalam who is close to the Iranian reformists also underlined that Iran's laws are not very clear on cyber-space related issues.

On the other hand, conservative politicians made careful comments on the issue.

"It is unlikely that the IRGC hacked the websites," Iranian parliament's Foreign Policy and National Security spokesman Esmail Kowsari told Trend, adding that if the hacking were true, the reasons for the hacking should be considered.

Commenting on the illegality or legality of the action, Kowsari underlined that "we cannot be calm when some anti-revolutionary actions happen and Iran's national interests are being threatened," and questioned the validity of the news.

Iranian expert on international issues, Hassan Hanizadeh also said that the published news is not true and the IRGC does not have the authority.

"The issue is under responsibility of the Iranian telecommunication ministry," Hanizadeh told Trend adding that the IRGC has no role in these issues."

Responding to a question about the legality of the IRCG hacking, he underlined that the Iranian administration acts within the law and has never hacked any foreign website.

Yet the Iranian Cyber Army, with close claims to the IRGC has launched several attacks against international websites such as Twitter (December 2009) and Voice of America (February 2011).

On February 22, 2011, Mashregh news portal quoted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the IRGC, Ali Saeedi as saying the Iranian Cyber Army was operating on behalf of the IRGC. "The attack on the VOA website by the ICA and the message left there for U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton reflects the IRGC's capability and strength in the cyber arena," he added.

Mehr news agency also reported on September 22 that an Iranian cyber group called DataCoders Security Team hacked nearly 370 Israeli websites.
It said in a statement that nearly 370 commercial, security, economic and internet provider websites affiliated with Israel have been hacked.
The hacked websites include Israel Special Security Projects (ISSP), Ono Security - a prominent Israeli supplier and importer of security-oriented systems and products - and Teva Bank.

Earlier in March 2010, the IRGC announced that its cyber teams had hacked 29 opposition websites affiliated with the "U.S. espionage network." According to a statement released by the Gerdab portal affiliated with the IRGC's Center for Combating Organized Crimes, the hacked websites acted against Iran's national security under the cover of human rights activities.

While the IRGC is violating international laws hacking websites, it may suffer undesirable legal consequences.

Early in July, some Western satellite companies intent on punishing Iran jammed international satellite broadcasts into the country and took a number of its channels off the air.

It seems that the end justifies the means if the IRGC continues hacking "unwanted" websites without considering possible legal - and at times not so legal -- consequences.

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