On November 17, a group calling itself the Iranian Cyber Army reportedly hacked the website of the popular satellite channel Farsi1.
Iranian news websites have posted a screenshot
of the hacked Farsi1 website, which includes a message posted by the Iranian Cyber Army.The message
wishes a "Happy Eid Ghorban" and adds, "Rupert Murdoch, the Moby company, the Mohseni family, and the Zionists partners should know that they will take the wish to destroy the structure of Iranian families with them to the grave."
Farsi1, which is co-owned by Rupert Murdoch, is a joint venture between Afghanistan's Moby Media Group, run by Saad Mohseni, and Hong Kong-based Star TV. It airs Latin American soap operas dubbed into Persian.
Iranian officials have criticized the channel and accused it of being part of the West's cultural invasion against the Islamic republic and seeking to corrupt the Iranians' morals. They’ve also accused the channel of aiming to destroy Iranian families -- the reason the Iranian Cyber Army gave for hacking the channel's website.
The Iranian Cyber Army became active after Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election, hacking a number of websites, including Twitter and several opposition websites.
In May, a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) seemed to suggest that the so-called Iranian Cyber Army belonged to the IRGC.
Ebrahim Jabbari, head of the Revolutionary Guard's Ali Ebn-e Abitaleb corps in Qom, said the IRGC had been successful in setting up the second-biggest cyberarmy in the world. Jabbari noted
that "the efforts by the enemy to inflict a blow on the Islamic state through various means," adding that, "One of the means to this end is cyberspace activities, and the Iranian Cyber Army has powerfully entered this arena to prevent any damage to the cultural-social infrastructure of the country."
A message on the Iranian Cyber Army's website
says the group was created in protest to the interference of "American and Zionists websites" in Iran's internal affairs and the spreading of false news. It warns "all those involved in a soft overthrow project" that action can be taken against them.
It doesn't mention whether or not it is affiliated with the IRGC.
In recent months, Iranian officials have increasingly stressed the need to bring the Internet under control. The warnings seem to suggest authorities have reached the conclusion that the country’s extremely tough Internet censorship has not been strong enough in attacking what officials deem damaging online content or countering the growing popularity of social-networking sites.
Last week, an Iranian official said he supported hacking websites to counter what authorities describe as the "enemy's soft war" against the Islamic republic. Bijan Nobaveh
, a legislator from Tehran, said, "Hacking is the easiest way, but deviating the enemy's information in the way we want is more important. The Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard are very active in that area."
He also said that Iran should make more use of its "unique" Basij force to fight the "soft war."
-- Golnaz Esfandiari