Skip to main content

Iran's Own Internet

The 'summer' break has been and gone and as the winter rains become a thing of unrelenting omnipresence, the main story that caught my eye was that of Iran building it's own internal intranet.

The politics and propaganda behind such a move are far beyond the scope of an information security blog, but idea has some interesting concepts.

Firstly there a few basic drivers behind such a move.  Control and censorship is one.  Regardless of political motives, building a brand new network, allows the creator to have a lot more control over the number and types of the devices that are connected and the information and data those devices share.  In a lot of regions where the internet is freely available, control and censorship is a big agenda item.

Increased concerns over music and software piracy have lead to an increased number of legal cases in recent months, including that of the Pirate Bay co-founder earlier in September.  The arguments for and against piracy are long and plentiful, with the internet really only acting as a conduit.  It's like using a motorway if you're in a get away car.  The motorway per-se hasn't done anything wrong, but it pays to make sure all cars are registered and drivers have the correct license and insurance papers.

Is that the same as allowing ISP's to filter, analyse and control content to help identify and trace illegal sharers and downloaders?  I'm playing devils advocate, and whether there are privacy breaches being made by the ISP's too is another discussion, but it's clear that both a technical and governmental control agenda is being initiated in order to reduce items like piracy.

The area of control was brought up again during the UK riots of 2012, when social media sites such as Twitter where used to help proliferate meeting information for the alleged rioters.  The initial response from several (probably non digital-native politicians) was to use words like 'ban' and 'control' an individual's use of the internet or particular sites.

A second driver for Iran's own private network is that of national security.  Cybersecurity was sited as one of the main reasons for a separate air-gapped home grown network, probably since the aftermath of the 2010 Stuxnet worm attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.  But does having a separate network actually make you that secure?

As Stuxnet proved, many SCADA networks are indeed supposedly air-gapped from public or normal-use networks for that very reason.  Being physically separate does provide a very obvious level of protection from certain types of attacks, but what it will also do, is probably create a false sense of security, often resulting in a shallower security posture and an avoidance of the basic 'defence-in-depth' approach.

Whilst the practical and logistical steps will take place over the coming months, it will be interesting to see from an information management perspective, whether this networking experiment will lead to other nations or regions developing their own 'mini-internets' based on greenfield thinking.

The main power of the internet has always been, not the network itself, but the devices and information they provide.  If the device pool becomes too small, users will find the information they require from elsewhere.



Popular posts from this blog

2020: Machine Learning, Post Quantum Crypto & Zero Trust

Welcome to a digital identity project in 2020! You'll be expected to have a plan for post-quantum cryptography.  Your network will be littered with "zero trust" buzz words, that will make you suspect everyone, everything and every transaction.  Add to that, “machines” will be learning everything, from how you like your coffee, through to every network, authentication and authorisation decision. OK, are you ready?

Machine Learning I'm not going to do an entire blog on machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).  Firstly I'm not qualified enough on the topic and secondly I want to focus on the security implications.  Needless to say, within 3 years, most organisations will have relatively experienced teams who are handling big data capture from an and identity, access management and network perspective.

That data will be being fed into ML platforms, either on-premise, or via cloud services.  Leveraging either structured or unstructured learning, data fr…

Customer Data: Convenience versus Security

Organisations in both the public and private sector are initiating programmes of work to convert previously physical or offline services, into more digital, on line and automated offerings.  This could include things like automated car tax purchase, through to insurance policy management and electricity meter reading submission and reporting.

Digitization versus Security

This move towards a more on line user experience, brings together several differing forces.  Firstly the driver for end user convenience and service improvement, against the requirements of data security and privacy.  Which should win?  There clearly needs to be a balance of security against service improvement.  Excessive and prohibitive security controls would result in a complex and often poor user experience, ultimately resulting in fewer users.  On the other hand, poorly defined security architectures, lead to data loss, with the impact for personal exposure and brand damage.

Top 5 Security Predictions for 2016

It's that time of year again, when the retrospective and predictive blogs come out of the closet, just before the Christmas festivities begin.  This time last year, the 2015 predictions were an interesting selection of both consumer and enterprise challenges, with a focus on:

Customer Identity ManagementThe start of IoT security awarenessReduced Passwords on MobileConsumer PrivacyCloud Single Sign On
In retrospect, a pretty accurate and ongoing list.  Consumer related identity (cIAM) is hot on most organisation's lips, and whilst the password hasn't died (and probably never will) there are more people using things like swipe login and finger print authentication than ever before.

But what will 2016 bring?

Mobile Payments to be Default for Consumers

2015 has seen the rise in things like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay hitting the consumer high street with venom.  Many retail outlets now provide the ability to "tap and pay" using a mobile device, with many banks also offer…