Iran battles “westoxification” using, well, westoxification.
by Cyrus Farivar – June 6 2012, 9:36pm E Cyberwar
Hundreds of Iranians gathered recently for a Hizbollah Cyber conference in Tehran
TALLINN, ESTONIA—Iran has significantly stepped up its use of corporate acquisitions, online propaganda, and hacking capabilities in recent years, according to an open source intelligence expert.
Jeff Bardin, the chief intelligence officer at Treadstone 71—an American company that researches publicly available materials—told a packed session at the International Conference on Cyber Conflict on Wednesday that Iran has become much more sophisticated and pervasive in its use of online tools.
He outlined the major paramilitary organizations that operate within Iran, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, and Ashiyane. The latter is a notorious hacker group that works in conjunction with the Iranian government. All of these groups, he said, share an overarching focus on an Iranian concept used to promote the movement that became the philosophic foundation of the Islamic Revolution: westoxification. It’s the loss of Persian language, culture, and influence to Western countries.
“[Iranians'] patience is, in my view, legendary,” he told Ars. “The United States is famous for underestimating the adversary.”
The IRGC, known in Persian as the “Pasdaran,” is a massive organization that touches nearly every part of the Iranian economy, including owning or controlling major corporations. Most notably, just months after the disputed presidential election of June 2009, the Iranian government sold a majority $7.8 billion stake in the Iran Telecommunications Company, a former monopoly.
“It smacks of a communist model,” Bardin said of the uncompetitive nature of awarding contracts to the IRGC. He added that by controlling the infrastructure itself, the Iranian government’s agencies could capture even tighter control over what was being said and done online.