Iran seeks cyber assistance from Russia amid growing military cooperation

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Russia is reportedly helping Iran acquire advanced digital surveillance capabilities as Tehran seeks to deepen its cooperation on cyberwarfare with Moscow, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

The report cited US and Iranian officials who said that Iran has been seeking cyber assistance from Russia, as well as requests for dozens of elite Russian attack helicopters and jet fighters and aid with its long-range missile program.


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The potential for cyber warfare collaboration comes after Iran sold drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, agreed to provide short-range missiles to Moscow, and shipped tank and artillery rounds to the battlefield, the report said, citing the officials.

According to the report, since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has been providing Iran with communication-surveillance capabilities, eavesdropping devices, advanced photography devices, and lie detectors.

Moscow is also believed to have shared more advanced software with Iran that would allow it to hack the phones and systems of dissidents and adversaries, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Russian authorities have determined that the benefits of advancing the military relationship with Iran outweigh any downsides, the people said, according to the report.

The Islamic Republic has a history of using the internet to blunt the impact of protests, including last year’s nationwide protest movement. The government slowed down web traffic in target areas to stop the spread of videos and communications among protesters and used digital surveillance tools to track and arrest protesters, the report noted.

According to documents published by the Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto-based research center, Russia’s PROTEI Ltd has reportedly begun providing internet censorship software to Iranian mobile-services provider Ariantel.

The software is part of a developing mobile-phone system that would “enable state authorities to directly monitor, intercept, redirect, degrade or deny all Iranians' mobile communications, including those who are presently challenging the regime."

Cybersecurity analysts told the WSJ that in Russia, PROTEI develops hardware and software designed to help governments monitor communications on phone lines, emails, and credit-card transactions, among other things.

The company also reportedly has contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense.

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