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BBC Hit By Cyber Attack Over Iran

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

The BBC says its Persian service has been taking a battering

The BBC has been hit by a significant cyber attack after Iranian authorities initiated a campaign against the broadcaster’s Persian service, the body’s director general Mark Thompson will say today.

Thompson will make a speech explaining how the BBC had its services disrupted, but he is not expected to explicitly blame the Iranian regime for any attack.

Iranian attackers widen their scope

“It now looks as if those who seek to disrupt or block BBC Persian may be widening their tactics,” extracts from the speech read. “There was a day recently when there was a simultaneous attempt to jam two different satellite feeds of BBC Persian into Iran, to disrupt the service’s London phone lines by the use of multiple automatic calls, and a sophisticated cyber attack on the BBC.”

Thompson will say it may be impossible to determine who was behind the attacks, yet attempted jamming of BBC services in Iran is “nothing new.”

“We regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious,” the excerpt read.

“The cyber attack on the BBC is not the first we have experienced. For millions of Iranians, BBC Persian is a precious source of reliable information about what is happening in the world and in their own country. I don’t want to go into any more detail about these incidents except to say that we are taking every step we can, as we always do, to ensure that this vital service continues to reach the people who need it.”

The BBC said it had no further comment on the matter.

Last month, Thompson accused Iranian authorities of arresting and threatening the families of BBC journalists, all of whom work outside of Iran.

Iran has been accused of a number of oppressive technological measures over the last few months, as it seeks to quell opposition to the regime led by president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Last month, a number of websites were closed ahead of elections in March. In January, there was international outrage after programmer Saeed Malekpour was sentenced to death for allegedly designing software which was used by pornographic websites.