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Mon 6 Aug 2012 03:05 PM

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Iran takes websites offline after cyber attacks

Government-related websites have been subjected to repeated cyber attacks in recent years

Iran takes websites offline after cyber attacks
Internet cafe, internet generic

Iran plans to move key ministries and state bodies off the internet next month in a bid protect the country’s intelligence from future cyber attacks, the country’s telecommunications minister has said.

Reza Taghipour told The Telegraph that the step was being taken because sensitive intelligence on the internet, which is controlled by “one or two” countries hostile to Iran, is vulnerable.

“The establishment of the national intelligence network will create a situation where the precious intelligence of the country won't be accessible to these powers,” Taghipour said.

The first phase of the project, which will replace the global internet with a domestic intranet system, is scheduled to be completed within 18 months, he added.

Iran’s government related computer systems have been the subject of several cyber attacks in recent years. Officials in 2010 said that malicious software known as Stuxnet affected some of the country’s computer systems and several centrifuges used in its nuclear program to enrich uranium.

An even more sophisticated virus known as Flame, believed to have targeted Iran’s oil ministry and main export terminal, was discovered this year.

Authorities in May said that several state-backed firms’ websites have been hacked by a Saudi Arabian group of hackers. The month prior to the attack, the Islamic Republic’s state-controlled media reported said the country’s oil industry had the victim of a major cyber attack.

The Islamic Republic's nuclear enrichment programme has been a major source of contention for the US and its allies, leading to stringent sanctions being placed on Iran which have eroded its stance as a major oil exporter.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes, although many Western governments suspect the country may be attempting to enrich uranium to a military grade level.

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