The BBC reports that they were the victim of a “sophisticated cyber-attack,” which they believe is part of an ongoing Iranian campaign to disrupt the BBC Persian Service.
The attack reportedly coincides with attempts to jam of the BBC’s satellite feeds into the Islamic republic.
“We regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious,” BBC Director General Mark Thompson said in a speech to the Royal Television Society today.
On March 1, a portion of the BBC’s network was unable to access email and other Internet services. It is believed that this was the result of a distributed denial-of-service attack.
The attack follows a blog written in February by Thompson. In the blog, Thompson complains of repeated jamming attempts against BBC Persian TV and harassment of their employees’ relatives still living inside Iran. He believes these actions are deliberate attempts on the part of the Iranian regime at curbing the free flow of information to the Iranian people.
“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,” Thompson said in his speech.
A BBC spokesperson declined comment further and instead referred to Thompson’s speech, according to reports.
This is just one more in a long line of incidents that suggest the Iranian government is cracking down on dissent and ramping up their surveillance capabilities. An Israeli tech company was accused of selling surveillance software to Iran late last year, though they deny it. There were also the compromises of certificate authorities Comodo and DigiNotar. Both attacks are believed to have been orchestrated by an Iranian regime seeking to eavesdrop on the secure communications of their citizens. In the latter case, Google publicly warned their users in Iran to change their passwords and take extra precautions.