BBC blames cyber-attack on Iran

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The BBC has revealed that it was the target of a sophisticated cyber-attack believed to have originated in Iran.

In a speech given yesterday to the Royal Television Society, director-general Mark Thompson said he believed the attack marked a stepping-up of the Iranian givernment's campaign against the BBC's Persian Service.

With very few Western journalists tolerated in Iran, the BBC's Persian Service is based outside the country. It provides independent TV, radio and online services in the Farsi language. Over recent months, the TV service has been repeatedly jammed.

Last month, it was revealed that the regime was arresting and intimidating Iran-based relatives of staff who remained in the country. They were arrested without charge, placed in solitary confinement, and urged to persuade their relations to either leave the Service or to inform on it secretly to Iranian intelligence.

"It now looks as if those who seek to disrupt or block BBC Persian may be widening their tactics. There was a day recently when there was a simultaneous attempt to jam two different satellite feeds of BBC Persian into Iran, to disrupt the Service’s London phone-lines by the use of multiple automatic calls, and a sophisticated cyber-attack on the BBC," said Thompson.

"It is difficult, and may prove impossible, to confirm the source of these attacks, though attempted jamming of BBC services into Iran is nothing new and we regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious."

The Iranian governent is beleived to have created a 2,400 strong cyber army, charged with censoring opposition within the country as well as carrying out external attacks.

It's been blamed for attacks against Israeli websites, as well as the Diginotar hack which affected the CIA, MI6 and Mossad.