Iran Fears Cyber Attack, Moves Government Websites

December 20, 2011  

Iran has moved most of its government websites from foreign-based hosting companies to new computer facilities inside the country to protect them against cyber attacks, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

A senior official in the Islamic Republic was quoted as having told the official IRNA news agency, “The location of the hosts of more than 90 percent of Iran’s governmental internet sites has been transferred inside the country.”

Ali Hakim Javadi, who serves as Iran’s deputy minister for communications and information technology, added, “This was a vital move for protecting governmental information.”

Javadi added that more than 30,000 Iranian websites belonging to ministries and other government bodies had until recently been hosted by companies in North America and other countries.

He claimed that “the data could have been exposed to constant danger at any moment.”

The new security arrangements come a year after the powerful Stuxnet computer virus attacked computers at Iran’s nuclear reactor in Bushehr.

After Stuxnet targeted Iran’s nuclear facilities and other industrial sites, the Islamic Republic acknowledged that it had affected a limited number of centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment facility in the central city of Natanz. However, it claimed its scientists discovered and neutralized the malware before it could cause serious damage.

In April, Iran said its nuclear program had once again been attacked, this time by a different computer virus called Stars. Most recently, the Islamic Republic said it had detected Duqu, a computer virus that experts say is based on Stuxnet.

The Stuxnet attack is widely believed to have been an Israeli cyber-attack, but Israel has not admitted it.

A computer expert, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, said Iran’s latest measure would have only limited impact.

“It can’t be a very effective measure since the sites can be hacked from any corner of the world,” the expert said. “However, it can restrict physical accessibility to the computers that store the data.”

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