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Anonymous Iran hack may have catastrophic consequences

by Catalin Cosoi, on 03 June 2011

Not even 24 hours have elapsed since Google's announcement about the Gmail incident involving military US officials and select members of Asians government that another data breach targeting Iran's government servers.

Earlier today, cyber-activist group Anonymous – whose notoriety has been consecrated during the Wikileaks scandal – have publicly released a collection of 10,365 e-mails from the Iranian government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These messages, classified as government property contain sensitive information, such as details about people who have applied for visas.

Just like in the Gmail breach I wrote about yesterday, the impact of the data leak is yet to be calculated. Suffice to say that these messages treat a variety of issues related to foreign affairs, some of which may be classified as top secret or mission-critical.

Another worrying aspect is that the Anonymous group has taken their ball game from high-profile institutions and payment processors to governments, and even more is expected to come, if their announcement of DDoS-ing the Iranian government during the upcoming Election Day is real.

During the past year, Iran has had a series of incidents that lead to systematic shutdowns of some departments. You may remember that about one year ago, the Stuxnet incident has disrupted Iran’s nuclear program. Today, all the servers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been shut down pending forensic analysis and technical assessments.  The entire situation looks dramatically similar to the Fire Sale scenario motion picture fans might remember from Die Hard, except that the intended target is now Iran.

Today’s incident is not an isolated one: we’ve seen so many corporate breaches during the past year that one can but wonder how they failed to serve as an example to others:  However, the attack against the government of a country is a much serious business and might end up in global crisis.

Catalin Cosoi

Chief Security Researcher

Daily "Did you know?"

On July 31, 2008, the Koobface computer worm started to target users of Facebook and MySpace; and new variants still constantly appear.


  • Bitdefender Security Specialists
    Bitdefender Labs
  • Catalin Cosoi
    Chief Security Researcher
  • Dan Lowe
    Dan Lowe, an OEM Senior Marketing Manager, has been working with Bitdefender for the last 3 ½ years. His familiarity with multiple security products from Firewalls to Antivirus has provided him a unique perspective on the security industry.
  • Ligia Adam
    Security Evangelist and Social Media Professional
  • Loredana Botezatu
    Loredana Botezatu – E-threat Analyst – Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years. She has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.