Iran’s Telecommunications company illegally reroutes Telegram app traffic

In a new move aimed at tightening the state-imposed ban on the Telegram messaging app, the Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) temporarily rerouted Telegram app traffic in violation of domestic law in July 2018.

For one hour on July 30, Iran changed the routing (pathway) of Telegram’s internet protocol (IP) addresses to the TCI instead of Telegram’s servers so that the app was unusable even with censorship circumvention tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

Hijacking IP addresses could have global implications. By altering the routing of Telegram traffic, Iran is causing other servers in the world to also update their routing, resulting in incorrect IP addresses that could also disrupt internet traffic in other countries.

The TCI’s hijacking of border gateway protocols (BGPs)—which manage how data is transferred across the internet—is not only a violation of Iranian law, it also seals the reputation of Iran’s Telecommunications Ministry as a violator of internet freedom.

Responding to this action, Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted on July 30, “Based on reports I’ve received so far, between 4 and 6 a.m. on July 30, the TCI was engaged in changing its topology and consolidating its provincial network in Shiraz and Bushehr [cities].”

“If confirmed, the TCI’s misdeed, whether intentional or not, will trigger a heavy fine,” he added. “The matter is under investigation by the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) of The I.R. of Iran.”

BGP hijacking is like changing your home address to receive mail at someone else’s residence. This is not the first time Iran has resorted to illegal methods to expand its filtering policies.

Investigations by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) show that on July 17, 2018, Iran also attempted to block international access to banned domestic websites by sabotaging and interfering in the data traffic in violation of its own Computer Crimes Law.

For example, when a user outside Iran tried to access fileniko.com, the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company(TIC) inserted code into that website that redirected users to a different website, http://peyvandha.ir/, which displays a list of websites recommended by Iranian authorities.

The list is no longer displayed because Iran has removed the filter on the website.

The responsible authority for this action was the TIC, which operates under the Telecommunications Ministry. All ministries in Iran operate under the president, who appoints the head minister.

It is unknown how many websites in Iran have been made inaccessible via this method.

y blocking international access to the website, the TIC committed sabotage and hacked the network in violation of articles 736 and 737 of Iran’s Computer Crimes Law, a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of 40 million rials (approximately $906 USD).

Source » Iran Human Rights

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