One week following the disruption of Tehran Municipality’s servers, cameras, and network, regime authorities in Iran were still unable to clarify the vast scope of this recent infiltration. The entire system that came under the impact of this latest disruptive measure has yet to return to full-functioning capability and the regime’s relevant entities refuse to provide an adequate report int this regard, especially when it comes to cybersecurity issues. Tehran Municipality officials were silent, leaving the Tehran City Council chief to generally hold “the enemies” accountable for this latest disruption.
In the first hours following this incident the Tehran Municipality ICT Organization issued a statement acknowledging the “deliberate disruption in the Tehran Municipality internal intranet software, adding Tehran Municipality was “temporarily out of service.” This “temporary” setback, however, continued for days and many of the applications and websites affiliated to the Tehran Municipality remained out of service and/or inaccessible with officials refusing to provide any timetable on when these platforms would be available for Tehran’s locals.
What was described as a “limited disruption” became all the more serious when all software and websites affiliated with the Tehran Municipality became inaccessible. To add insult to injury, authorities announced that surveillance cameras (such as traffic control cameras) were no longer active. Reports were also spreading about disruptions in the daily activities of Tehran’s main cemetery, the Behesht-e Zahra.
“What happened yesterday at around noon (June 2) was among the most basic attack taking place in today’s cybersecurity world,” claimed Hadi Mahzarnia, head of the Tehran Municipality ICT on June 3, according to the state-run Mehr news agency.
“In contrast to what is being circled on the internet, nothing important has happened to the services being provided to the people. The cameras that have been claimed to have been disabled are continuing their surveillance and controlling the city traffic. Different services, including metro and bus services, are available to the public,” he continued in remarks aimed at downsizing and minimizing the impact of this latest security breach that left the Tehran Municipality, and the entire regime humiliated.
“My colleagues may have for a few moments deliberately disconnected some of the services for a few minutes to elevate the level of security services provided and to evaluate the scope of the claimed events. However, this doesn’t mean there were any disruptions in the services provided to the public. Therefore, all services are up and running and the Municipality and the ICT are providing their services to the public,” he added, without explaining why the “few minutes” of disruptions that he claimed actually continued for days.
The regime’s own media are saying Tehran Municipality officials were actually quite lucky as the disruption coincided with the beginning of a holiday break. This provided an adequate opportunity for city directors to respond. However, when the holiday break came to an end and people were returning to their daily activities, Tehran Municipality was still in shock.
In contrast to the claims made by the Tehran Municipality ICT chief, on the first day after the recent holiday break, being Monday, June 6, much of the city services remained offline or disabled. The “My Tehran” software, being the main Tehran Municipality platform, was inaccessible, along with sending messages to the 137+ software, purchasing and charging metro train and bus tickets, toll payments, traffic plan reservations, and even city construction activities. Tehran’s electronic offices were not able to provide services to the locals and amid all this, there were reports of Tehran Municipality employees in all branches being banned from turning on their computers.
Despite all the remarks and reports that sought to minimize the recent events involving the Tehran Municipality disruption, the main portion of Municipality software remained out of service for days. While reports indicated that the ICT internal automation administrative system was disrupted, no Municipality official or relevant departments were willing to provide precise information in this regard.
What makes this recent setback all the more damning for the mullahs’ regime is the fact this is the fourth such blow in the past four months alone. The three previous cases prior to Thursday’s attack were as follows:
- January 27, 2022—Taking down the state TV/radio network and broadcasting slogans of “Death to Khamenei” and “Hail to Rajavi” through 27 state media networks.
- March 14, 2022—Taking down and defacing dozens of platforms associated to the regime’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and broadcasting images of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, and an image of Khamenei defaced with a red “X” while calling for continuous protests and an uprising to overthrow the mullahs’ regime.
- April 25, 2022—Taking down and defacing over 100 servers and computers, dozens of applications and databases, 37 websites, and 12 internal platforms associated to the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad while airing images of Iranian Resistance leaders and Khamenei’s image with a red “X”.
Security cameras are the tools used by the mullahs’ regime as means to impose their nationwide climate of fear and oppression. The regime’s security apparatus has spent enormous sums on this vast network while emphasizing for years that “the main focus of our policy is on installing more closed-circuit cameras,” according to an article in the state-run Hamshahri daily back in early 2017. This is money that could have been spent to address the needs of a large portion of the population who are suffering from low wages, unpaid salaries, and growing inflation.
“Khamenei himself is constantly emphasizing on increasing the number of police stations all across the country” and “equipping all these sites with security cameras,” according to remarks made in early 2017 by Mehdi Masoum Beigi, a senior commander of the regime’s State Security Force Command (SSFC).
By installing all these security cameras, the regime intends to make all Iranians feel they are being watched 24/7. Thus, hoping to force all those intent on, and determined to rise in opposition to the regime to think long and hard and finally succumb to the status quo and the regime’s iron-fist rule.
However, through the past several years, and especially with an uptick in their initiatives in the past few months, the PMOI/MEK affiliated network of Resistance Units across Iran has been showing how the regime can be targeted through well-planned measures targeting the very core of the mullahs’ rule.
These measures have an inspiring effect on an already tumultuous society that is taking advantage of every opportunity to voice its demands for regime change. This is exactly what is keeping Khamenei and Raisi awake at night, such that all their decisions, both in regard to domestic matters and foreign policy issues, are made with this focal point in mind.