A screen grab from one of the hacked security cameras of Tehran’s Municipality

Tehran’s 5,000 Surveillance Cameras, 150 Sites Hacked

Thursday, 06/02/2022

An Iranian hacktivist group named ‘Uprising till Overthrow' has hacked into and deactivated over 5,000 surveillance cameras and 150 websites and online services of Tehran Municipality.

The largescale cyberattack occurred on Thursday on the eve of commemoration ceremonies for the death anniversary of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ruhollah Khomeini. The security cameras around his mausoleum were also deactivated. 

The hacktivist group, reportedly affiliated with the Albania-based opposition Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) group, put photos of the leaders of the group Massoud and Maryam Rajavi as well as insults at Khomeini, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and President Ebrahim Raisi on the websites of Tehran Municipality. 

The MEK released a video clip it claimed showed the websites defaced with a graphic that criticized the Iranian leaders, with an image of Khamenei with a red 'X' over his face, while calling for an “uprising until overthrow.”

A spokesman for the MEK told Iran International that over 600,000 text messages saying “Death to Khamenei” and “Damn You Khomeini” were also sent to Iranian citizens today. 

The Municipality of Tehran confirmed the attack, saying the “intentional disruption” of its portals resulted in display of “insulting” images on its websites.

The hack comes after another cyberassault in March on the portal of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (Ershad) and its affiliated websites showing the photos of the Rajavis and calling for the death of the country’s supreme leader.

After a similar attack in January, a MEK spokesman said a ten-second hacking of several television and radio channels of Iranian state broadcasting might have been done by supporters in Iran. The hackers put up pictures of the Rajavis, and one of Khamenei in a gun sight. The Iranian leader was badly wounded in 1981 in one of many bombings attributed to the MEK.

On February 1, Hacktivist group Edalat-e Ali (Ali's Justice) hacked the online streaming of Iran’s state television and broadcasted a video with a strong opposition message. The video started with footage of people in Tehran’s Azadi stadium shouting “death to dictator” referring to Kamenei, then it cut into a close up of a masked man similar to the protagonist of the movie V for Vendetta, who said “Khamenei is scared, the regime’s foundation is rattling”.

In August 2021, a mystery hacktivist group calling itself Tapandegan (Palpitations), previously known for the 2018 hacking of electronic flight arrival and departure boards in Mashhad and Tabriz, released security camera footage from Tehran's Evin prison. Tapandegan said the images came from hackers called Edalat-e Ali (Ali's Justice) and were being circulated to draw attention to prisoner abuse.

In October 2021, gas stations in Iran were hit by an attack disrupting payments, leading to long queues for two days that prevented customers using the government-issued electronic cards for subsidized fuel. ‘Predatory Sparrow’ claimed responsibility, but Iranian officials blamed outside forces, widely taken to refer to Israel.

While Masoud Rajavi is widely thought dead, the MEK insists he is merely in hiding waiting for his return to Iran. The MEK allied to Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and helped the Iraqi dictator put down the 1991 uprisings in Iraq, when tens of thousands died.

The MEK was listed by the US from 1997 to 2012 as a ‘foreign terrorist organization,’ but was subsequently removed from the list. The group has cultivated links with many politicians in the US and Europe, paying large sums for attendance or speeches at its rallies.

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