Iran targeted by an apparent cyber attack amid protests

Iran targeted by an apparent cyber attack amid protests

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The website of the Central Bank of Iran was briefly taken down on Wednesday as the hacking group Anonymous claimed to have targeted the websites of several Iranian state agencies.

The cyber attack came amid days of protests over the death of a woman detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly wearing her Islamic headscarf too loosely. It also came hours before Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was to address the United Nations General Assembly.

Central Bank spokesman Mostafa Qamarivafa denied the bank itself had been hacked, saying the website was “inaccessible” due to an attack on a server that hosts it, in statements carried by the official IRNA news agency . The website was later restored.

The website of the Ministry of Culture was also unavailable on Wednesday evening.

The shadowy group Anonymous said it hacked other state agencies in Iran, including state television and the presidential spokesman’s office.

Iran has been the target of several cyber attacks in recent years.

In February, dissident hackers planted an anti-government message on a website that streams state television programs. Last year, an online group released footage from inside Iran’s notorious Evin prison which they claimed was obtained through hacking.

Later that year, a cyber attack hit gas stations across the country, creating long lines of angry drivers unable to get subsidized fuel for days. The messages accompanying the attack appeared to refer to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other attacks, which Iran has blamed on Israel, have targeted its nuclear program and industrial sites.

Iranians have been protesting for days over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old man who was arrested by the morality police last week. Police say she died of a heart attack and was not abused, but her family has cast doubt on that account, saying she had no previous heart problems and was unable to identify her body. see.

The UN’s human rights office says the morality police have stepped up their operations in recent months and resorted to more violent methods, including beating, battering and beating women. push into police vehicles.

Amini’s funeral on Saturday sparked protests in the western Kurdish region, where she is from, that eventually spread across the country and reached the capital, Tehran. The protesters clashed with the police and chanted against the Islamic Republic itself.

Raisi, who is due to address the United Nations General Assembly later on Wednesday, called for an investigation into Amini’s death. Iranian officials have blamed the protests on unnamed foreign countries that they say are trying to foment unrest.

Iran has seen waves of protests in recent years, largely due to a long-standing economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions related to its nuclear program.

The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, but talks have stalled in recent months.

Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It began ramping up its nuclear activities after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 accord, and experts say it likely now has enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb if it chooses to do so.

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