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The State of Iran's Ongoing Netwar 263

Posted by timothy
from the nineties-is-way-late-for-gibson-sterling-et-al dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following disputed elections in Iran, opposition groups and activists have turned conventional protests into a major threat to the ruling government. The low-intensity protest movement is rapidly becoming the first true netwar of the 21st century. Opposition protesters have shown that within a few hours or less, the information technologies that are the mainstay of modern society can become its weapons, as well. This article examines the current situation in Iran and the part played by new media technologies and strategies, showing how far the theory and practice of netwar has advanced since the concept first emerged in the late nineties."
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The State of Iran's Ongoing Netwar

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  • Impressed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:38PM (#28365929)
    TFA was one of the best written, well thought out blogs I've ever had the pleasure to read. Indeed JournalSquared should be invited to be an admin here at /.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      best written...well thought out...pleasure to read...

      I submit that you've already answered yourself on this point.

  • Fark (Score:4, Informative)

    by RetroGeek (206522) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:39PM (#28365939) Homepage

    Hardly any time to post. Spending most of my time on Fark

    • Re:Fark (Score:5, Informative)

      by RetroGeek (206522) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:49PM (#28366045) Homepage

      Offtopic?

      Threads on Fark have reached over 20K posts. People are setting up proxy servers to allow outgoing Twitter messages (bypassing Iranian firewall filters), with several people giving out do-it-yourself proxy kits. There is an active Go Green campaign and protests planned in many cities. Posting of relevant Twitter messages to keep everyone informed.

      Somewhat on the forefront of the Netwar I would think.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by amicusNYCL (1538833)

        Here, here. Fark has stepped up to provide explanations and filter through the noise, and 4chan has stepped up to provide technical support and services to keep communication open. I'm actually a little surprised that Slashdot is as quiet as it is, considering the technical knowledge that it's known for and the many cries over censorship. This is censorship at its greatest, and no one here seems to want to lend a hand to the people who need some help getting around it.

      • From Tatsuma. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:56PM (#28366895)

        This statement started off as a paragraph or two in the early threads...
        -
        Very worrying report: Supreme Leader Khameini has called for Friday Prayers where he will be present. There are fears that the IRG is going to have a massive presence and that this might be a trap, but on the other hand not attending makes the reformists enemies of Islam and worthy of the death penalty. There are also reports that other Reformist candidate Karoubi and his entire party leadership were arrested.

        Nothing much has happened in the last hours aside of that. There are reports of clerics and ayatollahs meeting in the holy Shiite city of Qom in order to plan to overthrow Khameini as supreme leader, as well as a more and more pro-dissenters stance from the army, but we have nothing substantiated so far. I will yet update this tomorrow, adding further information about various other groups operating in Iran right now and relevant to this revolution.

        I really am trying to cram the most relevant information and speculation only. Everything is updated as events unfold, especially the timeline and what will happen in the future. If you want to link this, here is the website, updated as the situation changes:

        https://sites.google.com/site/tatsumairanupdate/ [google.com]

        All twitter posts about the army being involved are false as I am writing this Warning, new twitter feeds are most likely government members trying to spread misinformation, ignore them! Also, there is a handful of good twitter feeds, but please do not publicize their usernames, they are in enough danger as it is and they don't need more publiclity. Those in the know will c/p their entries. Major timeline overhaul, including what has unfolded in the last few hours.

        Suppression of Dissent - The Players

        Currently, there are either two or three groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you'll read about throughout this thread:

        1. The Basij
        2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
        3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed but highly probable. Der Spiegel, based on a Voice of America report, says that 5,000 Hizbullah fighters are currently in Iran masquerading as riot police, confirming the independent reports. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last hours other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)

        - The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d'Ãtre is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.

        They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn't enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.

        - Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and i

      • Re:Fark (Score:5, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:57PM (#28366913)

        Posting of relevant Twitter messages to keep everyone informed.

        It's been said before, but if this ends up working, we can't say twitter is completely useless anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Alphager (957739)

      Hardly any time to post. Spending most of my time on Fark

      Yup, Fark is the place to be.
      Best coverage currently.
      You should have liniked to Tatsumas writeup of the events: https://sites.google.com/site/tatsumairanupdate/ [google.com]

  • If Iran doesn't want to be known as a tyrannical society with as of broken government of that of North Korea, if it wants to get respect for a (peaceful) nuclear program, they have to stop this oppression, let there be free speech. Heck, if this throws Iran into chaos and the president really wants what is best for Iran, he will step down and let the opposition leader take control.
  • 2nd net war (Score:5, Informative)

    by jimbolauski (882977) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:44PM (#28365977) Journal
    I the 1st net war of the 21st century was between Russia and Georgia. If you recall Russia executed ddos attacks on Georgia to stop communications during their invasion.
    • Yeah, and IIRC, Florida was very upset about that.

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      I seem to recall there being some buzz in the independent media about Georgia invading South Ossetia, the mainstream media keeping quiet and then Russia saying they'd "defend" South Ossetia from Georgia at which point the mainstream media went "ZOMG TEH RUSKIES ARE INVADING GORGIA!!1"

      /Mikael

      • I seem to recall there being some buzz in the independent media about Georgia invading South Ossetia

        South Ossetia was part of Georgia. Many residents being Russian, they wanted to break away from Georgia.

        Falcon

  • by dAzED1 (33635) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:46PM (#28366007) Homepage Journal

    Anyone that writes a story about this that doesn't mention Fark specifically needs to do a bit more research on the subject. Tats(uma) obviously gets quite a bit of credit, but he wasn't the only person there keeping up with the tweets. Fark (and oddly, 4chan) became major filters for finding the real data for the first several days. I'm amazed at the people who still don't know there's effectively a civil war going on in Iran, since CNN and other mainstream media didn't really start reporting on it until yesterday.

    The other bit is, because mainstream media has to hedge their bets - they have something to lose, where sites like Fark [fark.com] aren't even media sites, so they have nothing to lose - CNN and such has to worry about whether the dissidents will be successful. Because if they aren't, then you've pissed off the people still in power. Media blockout is one thing, but there was reliable reports of many deaths long before MSM was reporting there being only a single death.

    BTW, Iranians still need proxies for their twitter updates. If you have the ability...

    Also, one of the ways people have been trying to make it more difficult for the Iranian police to track down dissidents is by changing their twitter location and timezone to that of Tehran. Feel free to do that too.

    But yeah, twitter is the only thing able to make it out right now, considering.

    • by blhack (921171) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:09PM (#28366323)

      BTW, Iranians still need proxies for their twitter updates. If you have the ability...

      I brought a couple of them up, but can't get in contact with anybody to distribute them, who do I need to tell?

      • by dAzED1 (33635)

        This might seem a bit unnecessary, but readily handing out names to someone that replies to a comment isn't necessarily a good idea, what with the Iranian authorities actively looking for dissidents.

        I'd suggest checking out the latest fark thread and either finding the info there, or just posting the question. Someone will likely email you if you ask for it. I'm not sure I trust my own people-vetting skills. It's easy to find the info there at fark though, and thanks for the proxies :)

        • by blhack (921171)

          You make a good point.

          You can google my username if you want, though. I've been active on this board, fark, reddit, HN, etc. for like...8 years.

          I'll troll fark though, thanks :) (i think that me @...heap.com is probably getting slammed with emails right now, in fact, they're probably spamming the shit out of him).

          • by dAzED1 (33635)

            ah, that sucks...because that's the name to give if someone gives a name :/ I bet he'll have to get a new account after this. That, and the next time I'm in his town, I've got a beer for him. Or hell, her - I dunno. Tats can probably give you info to; check his profile on fark for contact info.

      • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:31PM (#28367279)

        Email me@austinheap.com, he's compiling an unpublished list of proxies that Iranians can ask for when they contact him. He's in one of the best positions to make sure the proxies get to the people who need them.

    • by ivoras (455934)

      Hmm.... there's information missing here. It would presumably be trivially easy for the Iranian government to:

      1. Cut landmines, or at the very least, if the Internet is a vital part of their economy or government activities, to filter the source IP addresses to only the government computers, presumably all accounted for and with known users.
      2. Do the same thing with telephone landlines.
      3. Block all wireless carriers' Internet access, in case the information is spreading via GPRS, 3G, whatever, or simply shut down t
      • by dAzED1 (33635)

        The Iranian government has been actively seeking out and destroying sat dishes. Some still remain. While wireless is easy to block, it's not easy to block completely - not when your own police force has disbanded, the military is refusing to do anything, and you're left with little more than the few extra thugs. Granted, your thugs have guns, and the population does not, but your thugs are also the less educated, generally rural types. Hick thugs versus educated urbanites, and you don't think some of th

    • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:40PM (#28367341)

      The problem, of course, is that sites like Fark are full of well-intentioned people who do not really know the first thing about what is going on or what they really should do -- they just want to do something, anything they can think of to feel like they are helping, while not even being very sure of WHAT they are helping.

      So, being net-savvy, they think that forwarding every piece of information they receive (with no way bar VERY few exceptions of vetting that information) is helping, when they could very likely be opening themselves up to being used for propaganda from just about any imaginable source -- including the Mousavi campaign which 99.9% of those trying to help didn't even know existed before last Thursday, much less know anything about what it really means. They just know it's not Ahmadinejad and that has to be just splendid, so anything masquerading as not-being-Ahmadinejad must be your new BFF in Iran.

      This is incredibly dangerous.

      The urge to help, be part of history and change the world is strong, but it is extremely easy to exploit. Unless you _really_ are actively involved and _know_ your contacts and know what the hell you are doing, you stand a very high chance of hurting instead of helping -- and, let's face it, with no risk of danger sitting at a computer terminal in the U.S. and blind faith that everything you do is helping the cause, considering the conflict, you could end up contributing to people being killed.

      BE CAREFUL.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:49PM (#28366047)

    Belief Circle Clash in progress.

    Last year's bunch of guys in Guy Fawkes masks taking on the Cult of Scientology was just the warmup. This year, the sport of nerds is geopolitics.

    This week, we had Twitter [twitter.com] replace CNN for live coverage of breaking news, Fark [fark.com] replacing the talking heads for analysis, Anonymous [slashdot.org] being linked to from The Pirate^WPersian Bay [thepiratebay.org] for ways to distribute images of preconfigured proxy servers, and to distribute video, and, the rest of /b/ actually helping by selectively flipping the DDOS switch on and off on Iranian government websites.

    It's like Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End [wikipedia.org] come to life.

  • Noah Shachtman over at wired http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/06/web-attacks-expand-in-irans-cyber-battle/#more-13774 [wired.com] seems to have an idea of what is happening and worth a read.
  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:53PM (#28366091)

    Not long after the first requests for proxies went out, went out the requests for "So how do I configure this again?".

    So I created ProxyBox [exstatic.org] [mirror] [128.210.109.29] to help people get stuff setup quickly. It has squid (listening on a multitude of ports), tor, & ziproxy. It was quick and dirty (and the file size shows). Not to mention I'm just a Mechanical Engineer, not a security expert. This was meant for the fark crowd and not for the slashdot, I'm sure everyone here is more than capable of setting up some proxies.

    Austin Heap [nyud.net] has been distributing the Proxies to Iranians on the inside via twitter and such. (Twitter [twitter.com]) his biggest problem right now is ssh servers inside of Iran to make sure that proxies work. Supposedly he's also been able to set up VPNs on fast connections. But work is slow because the internet is slow and he's down to 1-2 SSH boxes ATM.

    They've already started blocking ports 80,81, 3128 & 8080. And starting to send fake RESETs on TCP connections (Comcast anyone?).

    How you can help:
    Well I'd like some help making ProxyBox a ton smaller. If DSL can get a full GUI in 50MB, there's no reason ProxyBox should be 400MB. I'd also like to turn it into a LiveCD or LiveUSB so it can be set up by anyone not just with VirtualBox. (jjarvis98 at gmail.com)

    Tor is being used quite extensively. Some people have setup exit nodes and had their connections filled with people hitting nothing more than twitter, facebook & youtube. Set up an exit node or bridge if nothing else.

    Supposedly UDP and ping still work fine. So some people are looking into TCP over UDP [jankratochvil.net] or I was also thinking about Ping Tunnel (Tcp over Ping) [cs.uit.no]

    #irantech on irc.freenode.net is a bit unorganized but it's working for now.

  • by DnemoniX (31461) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @04:58PM (#28366151)

    Those mischievous denizens over at 4chan have apparently managed to throw up over 9000 proxies and waged a very effective series of denial of service attacks against the Iranian government. Somebody send those guys some Redbull and Cheetos!

    • by UID30 (176734) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:10PM (#28366329)

      ...Somebody send those guys some Redbull and Cheetos!

      Hot Pockets. All you got. Seriously.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JobyOne (1578377)
      Is denial of service on Iranian government sites such a hot idea?

      They might hassle the government a little bit, but they also might gum up the tubes being used by regular folks to do things like post body counts and whatnot to Twitter (of all the ridiculous places).

      Something to consider.
  • by kyliaar (192847) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:01PM (#28366199)

    against an irate populace is something that is one of the main pillars of our constitution.

    The Declaration of Independance and the Right to Bear Arms were both very much about this. Basically, the Bill of Rights as a whole was meant to shore up the rights of the populace to defend itself against an abusive government.

    It is very interesting to see that the Internet has changed the battlefield enough to level it in certain areas. Really since the mechanization of warfare, no populace could really effectively stand up to the military might of a state.

  • Low-intensity? (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrylis (262281) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:37PM (#28366667)

    These protests are only low-intensity if you count that the protesters aren't starting violence. There have been literally millions of protesters in each of several cities--and these are the ones who are coming out despite the very real threat of attack from paramilitary forces.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:47PM (#28367395) Journal

    What if instead of Iran and Tehran, it was the United States of America and San Francisco? What if instead of Iranian opposite party, it was Libertarians? What if instead of US citizens assisting Iranians dissidents, it was Chinese assisting US dissidents? Would it be a good thing, or an assault on our national sovreignty?

    Until we hear otherwise, we have a violent minority who are upset about being under-represented. We also have sympathetic outsiders who are willing to support them.

    The whole situation is pretty bitter sweet. On one hand, there are a group of people who are standing up for a Westernized idea of freedom. On the other hand, they are the minority voice in a country that for the most part seems okay with a pious, religious based social order. For democracy to work, the minority has to behave themselves and go along with what the majority has decided on.

    I'm not a big fan of the socialization of our economic system, but you don't see me organizing violent protests in the street and demanding a return to a fiscal system more in line with what was defined in the Constitution.

    • by Brietech (668850) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:38PM (#28367821)
      It might be more like if John McCain had of won San Fransisco with 70% in november, and the Democrats took to the streets to protest a rigged election. The Libertarian party has not shown itself capable of becoming a mass movement in any real sense. In regards to the last part of your comment, 1) I'm pretty sure the constitution doesn't define a "fiscal system," even though you probably meant economic system, and 2) the violence has largely been on the part of the Baseej, a super-nationalist militia, against the fairly peaceful protesters
    • No mod points for me today, so:

      Yeah, you're right, I fear the US, or at least the US powers-that-be, would be hypocritical if that kind of shitstorm was happening here. However, I'd say that that kind if political hypocrisy is an "everyone does it" game (don't make it right)
      However, the concept in your example seems to fall in the "likely couldn't understand it completely 'on paper' category

      Any particular reason for selecting San Francisco as the US city in your example? If Libertarian politics have anythin

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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