Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said Iran managed to thwart about 33 million cyber attacks last year, responding to a warning by the United States regarding alleged plans for attacks against sensitive sites throughout the country.
“Media asked if the claimed cyberattacks against Iran are true. We have been facing with cyber terrorism, like Stuxnet, and the U.S. unilateralism, such as sanctions, for a long time. Last year, we neutralized not a single strike but 33 million attacks with our Dejfa (national) cyber defense shield. A successful attack has not carried out, but they (attacks) cause concern,” Jahromi posted to his Twitter account on June 24.
Jahromi’s remarks came after the Associated Press reported that the U.S. military’s cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on June 20. The claim comes in the wake of President Donald Trump deciding to not strike back at Iran with conventional weapons after Iran claimed responsibility for downing a U.S. military surveillance drone last week.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said that its Aerospace Forces used the home-grown Khordad 3 surface-to-air missile system to shoot down what was an RQ-4A Global Hawk drone that belonged to the U.S. Navy, moments after it entered what Iranian officials say was Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf. Washington maintains that the drone was flying over international airspace.
Two American officials told the AP that the cyberattacks — supposedly a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions — disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers. The attacks, which specifically targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps computer system, were provided as options after Iranian forces were accused of blowing up two oil tankers earlier this month.
The AP was not alone in its assessment of the situation. The New York Times reported on Sunday that American military and intelligence officials are drafting plans for additional cyber attacks against Iranian targets.
“The White House is drafting a wide range of covert operations that include disabling Iranian boats used to conduct shipping attacks in and around the Strait of Hormuz, as well as unspecified efforts to stoke unrest inside the Islamic Republic. The White House may also be exploring ways weaken Iranian proxy groups in the region,” current and former U.S. officials were quoted as saying.
Iran has been beefing up its cyber security in recent years, and efforts include a security services project dubbed “Dejfa,” an acronym that in the Farsi language means “Digital Fortress.” The project aims to protect citizens’ privacy, deter cyberattacks on infrastructure, help sustain digital services, combat data breaches and online fraud, as well as detect malware in the network and stop its spread.
The security shield project is composed of 10 systems including Tele-Afzar, which deals with malware; Kovashgar, which explores suspicious files; Samat, which confronts Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks; Bina, which focuses on bots in IPs; and Checkup, which assesses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates and Domain Name System (DNS) servers.