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Iran may have committed cyber-attack on BBC

As two satellite feeds into Iran were jammed, the news source also experiences a denial-of-service attack. The BBC's director-general believes the Iranian authorities are the culprit.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Just days after watchdog group Reporters Without Borders named Iran as one of the "Enemies of the Internet," the BBC is now claiming to be the victim of a cyber-attack possibly perpetrated by the Iranian authorities.

The news source says that two of its satellite feeds into Iran were jammed earlier this month coinciding with a denial-of-service attack in which some parts of the BBC's e-mail and Internet services were unavailable. The director-general of the BBC Mark Thompson will be giving a speech to the Royal Television Society shortly, in which he plans to explain how the Iranian authorities were involved in the attack, according to the BBC.

"We regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious," Thompson will say, according to the BBC. "I don't want to go into any more detail about these incidents except to say that we are taking every step we can, as we always do, to ensure that this vital service continues to reach the people who need it."

This comes after months of alleged intimidation of Persian BBC workers by the authorities, according to Thompson. In a February blog post, he wrote that the workers' family members have been targeted, jailed, and faced "slanderous accusations." Also, the BBC Persian TV has been repeatedly jammed, he said.

"For those working for the BBC Persian service, interference and harassment from the Iranian authorities has become a challenging fact of life," Thomson wrote. "It is behavior that all people who believe in free and independent media should be deeply concerned about.

The Reporters Without Borders "Enemies of the Internet" report says that online crackdowns and surveillance have amplified in Iran this past year. During protests and elections, the authorities have caused Internet slowdowns and disconnections along with jamming telephone lines, the report says.

Additionally, according to Reporters Without Borders, several bloggers and software developers have been jailed and tortured, including Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour. Malekpour is a Web programmer who was picked up when he went back to Iran to visit his family in October 2008. Since then he has been held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, and in January he was sentenced to death by the Iranian Supreme Court.