In the wake of the recent Iranian government crackdown on dissent after Mahsa Amini’s death, the international hacktivist group Anonymous has launched a new operation against the country’s online infrastructure.

Dubbed OpIran (Operation Iran) by Anonymous; the hacktivists have taken down a number of top government websites and hacked over 300 security cameras in different parts of the country.

What Happened to Mahsa Amini?

It is worth noting that on September 16th, 2022, a 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died in Tehran, Iran, under Police custody. Amini was arrested for failure to follow government-mandated forms of the Hijab.

On the other hand, authorities claim Amini died of natural causes after suffering heart failure at the police station. However, Iranians have rejected the official explanation and have taken their protests (Mahsa Amini protests (aka September 2022 Iranian protests) to the streets.

Anonymous Stands with Protestors in Iran

On Twitter, YourAnonNews, one of the largest social media representatives of the Anonymous movement, and several other popular Anonymous handles have confirmed their support for Iranian protesters. Thus the recent cyber attacks were carried out under the banner of OpIran.

According to Anonymous, the modus operandi of OpIran involves DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service attacks), data breaches, social engineering attacks, quick tutorials on how to beat state censorship by using the Tor browser, and evading arrests by police.

Anonymous Hacks Iran’s Forensic Research Center

The first major Iranian government institution to suffer a cyberattack from Anonymous hackers is its Forensic Research Center. As seen by Hackread.com, Anonymous managed to successfully deface its domains and leak a database containing 100MB worth of data.

According to Hackread.com’s analysis, the data contains names, email addresses, logs including IP addresses of the Center’s site visitors worldwide.

OpIran - Anonymous Hits Iranian State Sites, Hacks Over 300 CCTV Camera
A Google search for the Center’s website shows it was hacked by Anonymous (1) – The deface page left by Anonymous plays a video containing content that shows a message of support to Iranians (2) – Screenshots 3 and 4 show what is inside the database Forensic center’s database. (Credit: Waqas – Hackread.com)

Anonymous hacked 300 Iranian CCTV cameras

Although Anonymous is famous for its large-scale DDoS attacks and data breaches (the group proved its point during OpRussia during Ukraine and Russia conflict), lately, they have been going a step further by hitting the vulnerable IoT infrastructure in the targeted country.

In the case of Russia, as reported by Hackread.com, Anonymous managed to hack over 400 security cameras across the country while sending almost 10 million texts to Russian citizens to raise awareness about the conflict.

In the latest, Anonymous has claimed to have compromised 300 security camera installations by exploiting a 5.4 severity score vulnerability.

OpIran - Anonymous Hits Iranian State Sites, Hacks Over 300 CCTV Camera
Iranian CCTV cameras apparently controlled by Anonymous

This however is not the first time when hackers have hacked into CCTV cameras in Iran. In August last year, hackers from Edaalate Ali (Ali’s Justice or Ali’s Court) group breached the computer system and security cameras at a prison facility in northern Tehran and leaked live footage of grim conditions and grave human rights violations taking place in the prison.

Anonymous DDoS Attacks on Iranian Sites

Since launching OpIran, Anonymous has carried out a series of DDoS attacks against Iranian state institutions. Some of these include the following:

  • National Government Portal of Iran (Iran.gov.ir)
  • The official website of the Central Bank of Iran (Cbi.ir)
  • The official website of the Government Spokesman Office (Dolat.ir)
  • The official website of Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran (Khamenei.ir)
  • The official website of the Iranian State media agency IRIB News Agency (Iribnews.ir)
OpIran - Anonymous Hits Iranian State Sites, Hacks Over 300 CCTV Camera

and the list goes on

At the time of writing, all the above-mentioned domains were offline.

Anonymous response to the article published by Hackread.com

For now, it remains to be seen how effective Anonymous’ latest operation will be. However, it is clear that the group is determined to continue its fight against what it sees as an oppressive regime.

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