Antivirus Ban for Iran: A Controversial Penalty

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pierluigi Paganini

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(Translated from the Original Italian)

Iran will be banned from the purchase of antivirus systems, a kind of technological embargo with clear implications for the Stuxnet virus attacks and the need for the country to prevent further infections to industrial control systems for critical infrastructures, namely their nuclear programs.

The international sanctions will stop the Government of Teheran to from obtaining commercial anti-virus software, according to a senior Iranian intelligence official.

The announcement was been made public by FARS news agency, and Iranian Deputy National Security Minister for technical issues Ahangaran said the country is being forced to design its own anti-virus software due to the sanctions. 

Ahangaran said that Iran is unable update antivirus programs and combat Internet viruses because of the imposed ban.

At this point it is clear in my opinion that the cyber strategy aimed against Iran by Western governments, which have consistently denied authorship of the powerful Stuxnet cyber weapon, are continuing to undermine the nuclear weapons ambitions of Teheran.

The embargo, in addition to reinforcing the belief that the dangerous virus was indeed developed by Israeli agents and / or the U.S., suggests that these countries are focusing their efforts in prelude to a conventional military offensive against Iran.

Are we also close to an escalation of cyber attacks against Iran?

Recall that in recent months it was revealed that Stuxnet was the product of an innovative design for the development of malware defined as a "tilded platform", and certainly the innovative designers behind its production are still engaged in the development of new agents.

Is the antivirus ban part of the preparation to use them? I find the penalty somewhat questionable for the following reasons:

Cyber space, as I have repeatedly said, has no boundaries,and  the potential effects of a cyber attack may have an impact far from against a specific target.

We know that half the world's critical infrastructures are still too vulnerable to a Stuxnet-type virus, and measures such as the ban under discussion could facilitate the spread of malware agents that could end up infecting systems across the world.

Are we really prepared for this?

The ban is intended to push Iran into the production of its own malware defense instruments. I personally think that this scenario was long considered by Iran. And do not forget that Iran already has strategic alliances, especially with China, and access to their technology.

It is ridiculous to think that the antivirus ban will be make the country more exposed than it already is today. And the financial earnings available to Iran resulting from the profits of the oil market gives them plenty of resources to work with.

Sanctions such as these under discussion have a symbolic value only, a provocation to which it is expected Iran will reply, and further justify a conventional military operation: this is the new Cold War.

One might expect the response from Teharan will be to limit the production oil, as the Iranian government knows full well the difficulties that west countries are facing economically and the and the weight of the future oil crisis.

While I'm writing this piece, news agencies are already reporting that Iran has decided to stop selling oil to French and British oil companies. This was announced by the spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, Alireza Nikzad,as  quoted by the official website of the Ministry:

"The sale of British and French oil companies is suspended," said Nikzad.

In recent days, Iranian sources had also announced the suspension of oil supplies to several European countries, including Italy. Is the decline of oil production that will break the glass?

Cross-posted from Security Affairs

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