NEW YORK, NY--- The Iranian hackers are suspected of stealing digital certificates that are used to authenticate the legitimacy of a site.
According to the digital certificate issuing firm, Comodo, the certificates are for sites like Google, Skype, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Gmail.
The CEO of Comodo said the hackers were state sponsored and blamed the Iranian government for the theft.
Comodo is a computer Security firm based in NJ. The company issues digital certificates.
One of the origins of the attack that we experienced is from Iran," said Abdulhayoglu, the founder and CEO of Comodo.
Abdulhayoglu said What is being obtained would enable the perpetrator to intercept Web-based email/communication and the only way this could be done is if the perpetrator had access to the country's DNS infrastructure.
The IP address of the original attack was traced back to Iran, according to Comodo.
It does not escape notice that the domains targeted would be of greatest use to a government attempting surveillance of Internet use by dissident groups," Comodo said.
The Islamic Republic, in coordination with the state telecommunication company and the revolutionary guard, has organized a special unit whose job is to hack into various servers in order to interrupt or redirect internet traffic. According to sources familiar with the units mission, the new cyber intelligence unit is also tasked with spying on dissident groups in Iran and abroad.
The hackers go by the name, Cyber Army. They claimed responsibility for hacking into the Voice of America website. The hackers placed an Iranian flag, an AK-47 assault weapon, and a message written in cryptic English addressed to the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The message read Mrs. Clinton, Do you want to hear the voice of the oppressed nations? The Islamic nations would no more be tricked by the US, and we want you to stop interfering in the Islamic countries.
According to PBS.orgs Tehran Bureau, the Iranian hackers affiliated with the Islamic Republic have in the past attacked 94 other Voice of America affiliated websites. The Islamic Republics cyber spies are known to have hacked into Twitter and the Chinese search engine Baidu.
The members of the Cyber Army are chosen by the Iranian government from among the countrys best hackers. When government identifies a high profile hacker, they contact the hacker with a choice to either join the government or face imprisonment. Many of Irans young hackers readily accept the governments offer of employment as way to avoid detention.
The members of the Cyber Army frequently hack into social networking sites to steal personal information they subsequently use to identify anti-government supporters. On one Iranian social networking site similar to Facebook, the members of the Cyber Army frequently engage the sites users in conversations designed to gauge their level of loyalty to Irans cleric led government.
Rooz Online reports the Islamic Republics cyber intelligence unit is active in spreading Islamic propaganda and has created up to 25000 fictitious accounts on Facebook with names and pictures of made up users.
According to Rooz, the cyber intelligence unit is housed in a five story building and is composed of 20 units, including administrative and media support sections.
According to cyber security expert Jeffrey Carr, the Iranian hackers should not be dismissed as amateurish. Carr says "this type of an attack actually can be quite serious because if [hackers] have DNS access, they can collect your mail. They essentially can own your entire online presence.