Hossein Salami, the head of the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), previously said that the cyber army of the IRGC and the paramilitary Basij can confront the cyber warfare of the ‘Global Arrogance’ (the USA and the Western countries).
This comment is a little bit strange after the latest cyber-attack against the country’s fuel system, which caused interruptions for about one week.
The weekly ‘Sobh Sadegh’, a publication affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, has recently published an article entitled ‘Cyber Confrontation’ on the cyber wars of the Iranian government.
The IRGC initially blamed Israel for attacking the Iranian government’s nuclear facilities, including the Natanz site, the Karaj nuclear facility, the IRGC’s Jahad Self-Sufficiency Research Center, and an attack on the intelligent fuel system.
While the regime has suffered heavy losses in cyber warfare in recent years and months, the Revolutionary Guards claimed that they have the fourth most powerful cyber army in the world.
However, despite such a claim by the Revolutionary Guards, the force has not been able to prevent serious cyber-attacks on sensitive military and security centers of the regime, and many regime-affiliated experts are warning the regime that they will be able to confront new attacks in near future.
Following the reactions to the remarks of ‘Sobh Sadegh’ weekly, this paper, in a refusal to eliminate the weakness of the IRGC following successive defeats in the field of cyber warfare, called the attacks on sensitive military, nuclear, and missile centers ‘Israel’s claim’ and stepped back from its previous statements.
Iran’s army forces including the National Army and the IRGC, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) have allocated about $16 billion of the country’s resources to themselves. This figure is believed to be much higher while most of the allocations are not public especially in the fields of overboard activities and the regime’s cyber warfare.
Most of it seems to be used in the service of internal repression and censorship of the internet and the press.
The first steps to impose censorship and repression in cyberspace have been executed with the establishment of the ‘Center for the Study of Organized Crime of the Revolutionary Guards’ which dates to 2007.
After that, the Revolutionary Guards, in the form of its ‘Basij Force’ in 2008, launched 10,000 blogs in 10,000 ‘Basij bases’ in the country to promote the policy of censorship and repression.
This was not the last action of the IRGC in the field of censorship and cyberwar against the people. The IRGC formed the ‘Basij Cyber Council’ in 2009, ‘Supreme Council of Cyberspace’ in 2011, ‘National Cyberspace Center’, ‘Owj Organization’, ‘IRGC Cyber Defense Command’ and its promotion to ‘IRGC Cyber Security Command’, ‘Gerdab site’, ‘Khyber Cyber Base’, ‘Mersad and Nasr’ companies, ‘Cyberspace Cultural Operations Battalions’, ‘Saraj Cyberspace Organization’, ‘Cyber Base and New Threats’ to pursue its censorship policy inside Iran.
The goal of the regime’s cyber warfare is confronting protests and spreading fear among the people to prevent the formation of any activity against the regime, Iran watchers say. As an example, we can evoke the regime’s activities on social media after the bloody November 2019 protests, in which the regime’s cyber agents paved the path for the execution of the protesters, by trending the ‘#Execute’ hashtag on the Persian-language Twitter and demanded the implementation of the death penalty against the peaceful protesters, arguing that death-row demonstrators had committed murder, invasion of privacy, armed robbery, and bombing attacks.
The regime’s cyber army is not developed enough to confront strong nations, and its main goal is to be a supplement and aid for domestic repression.