Hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ has taken down the official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as nationwide protests rage in the country.
The hacking group targeted Ali Khamenei’s website on Thursday a few hours after it said it hacked more than 300 street surveillance cameras.
While the government has cut internet access in the country, the group is also trying to raise awareness about the ways Iranian protesters can keep using the net to make their voices heard in the world, mainly through Tor, short for The Onion Router, a free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication.
The group started its cyber operations against the Islamic Republic in solidarity with the ongoing protests across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini who died following repeated blows to the head reportedly by hijab enforcement patrols.
If Iran government blocks the people from accessing the internet, Anonymous will block the government from accessing the internet, the group said.
During the past few days, the group hacked the website of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also claims that it obtained the database of Iran’s Forensic Research Center.
On Tuesday and Wednesday some state-owned websites, including the website of the Central Bank of Iran, were also targeted by group. A member of the group posted a message to the Iranians on Twitter on Tuesday, saying, "We are here with you. The operations against Iran began. wait for us."
Central Bank spokesman Mostafa Ghamarivafa denied that the bank itself was hacked, saying only that the website was “inaccessible” because of an attack on a server that hosts it.
At least two main websites of the Iranian government and some state-affiliated media sites as well as the state broadcaster IRIB were among the targets, some of whom were back online after a few hours. One of the websites of the government hosts “smart services” and another is dedicated to publishing government news and interviews with officials.
A video was also released early on Wednesday showing footage of protests in several Iranian cities that have erupted since Mahsa Amini died in custody of the hijab enforcement patrols. “This was the last straw,” an altered voice on the video said of Amini’s death. “The Iranian people are not alone”.
Following large anti-government protests in Tehran and Mahsa Amini’s hometown as well as a couple of other cities in the Kurdistan province, demonstrations expanded Tuesday to many Iranian cities and towns, with several people killed, hundreds arrested, and thousands injured.
Since protests over the death of Amini started, the government significantly slowed down the internet connection speed, a strategy it usually uses during protests in Iran to hamper communication and sharing of images and news by protesters.
Authorities disrupt the Internet to prevent news of unrest reaching the rest of the country and abroad, and to prevent protesters from galvanizing support in nearby regions.