Security Experts:

Iran to Pull Critical State Networks Off Public Internet, Report

Officials in Iran plan to move key ministries and state bodies off the public Internet to protect them from cyber-attacks, according to a report.

The move will be the first phase of a project that will ultimately establish a domestic intranet that should be completed within 18 months, the Daily Telegraph reported Sunday. Reza Taghipour, Iran's telecommunications minister the country was making the move because intelligence information was vulnerable to cyber-attacks from countries hostile to Iran.

"The establishment of the national intelligence network will create a situation where the precious intelligence of the country won't be accessible to these powers," Taghipour told a conference on Sunday at Tehran's Amir Kabir University.

Iran's critical infrastructure has been the target of cyber-attacks reputedly originating from joint operations involving the United States and Israel, in particular the notorious Flame and Stuxnet malware.

Opponents of the plan have denounced it in the past as a way for the government to curb western influence on the Internet and tightening surveillance of political activists and dissidents online.

Earlier this year, Iran disconnected computer systems at a number of its oil facilities from the Internet in response to a cyber-attack. A source at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) reportedly told Reuters that a virus was detected inside the control systems of Kharg Island oil terminal, which handles the majority of Iran’s crude oil exports. In addition, computer systems at Iran’s Oil Ministry and its national oil company were hit.

Oil Ministry spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad-Rahbar told the Mehr News Agency at the time that the attack had not caused significant damage and the worm had been detected before it could infect systems.

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