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Iranian Civil Society Targeted in Massive Hacking Campaign

November 29, 2023
1 min read
Iranian Civil Society Targeted in Massive Hacking Campaign

Hackers believed to be sponsored by the Iranian government are targeting civil society groups inside and outside of Iran in the “largest and most coordinated impersonation and phishing campaign” since the outbreak of nationwide protests last year, according to a Texas-based group that advocates for human rights in Iran.

Miaan Group says in a report published earlier this week that it has documented more than 100 cyberattacks targeting Iranian journalists, civil society activists and rights defenders of ethnic and religious minorities domestically and abroad in 2023.

The main target group are individuals and organizations of ethnic minorities such as Kurds and Azeris, it says.

The attackers have been impersonating US-based think tanks or non-governmental organizations that support the rights and interests of these minorities or are vocal in supporting the pro-democracy movement in Iran, according to the report.

“The attackers have been exploiting the lack of information and awareness among the target groups, as well as various crises in Iran, such as the mysterious suspected poisoning of hundreds of school girls earlier this year, to lure them into clicking on malicious links or opening infected attachments,” the report says. “The links and attachments are designed to harvest the targets’ account credentials and personal data, and to compromise their devices and networks.”

Miaan Group says the attacks “pose a serious threat to the security and privacy of the target groups, as well as to the integrity and credibility of the information and communication channels that they rely on.”

They also “reveal the increasing capabilities and ambitions of the Iranian government in conducting cyber operations against its perceived enemies, both domestically and internationally.”



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