TALLINN, ESTONIA—Iran has significantly stepped up its use of corporate acquisitions, online propaganda, and hacking capabilities in recent years, according to an open source intelligence expert.
Jeff Bardin, the chief intelligence officer at Treadstone 71—an American company that researches publicly available materials—told a packed session at the International Conference on Cyber Conflict on Wednesday that Iran has become much more sophisticated and pervasive in its use of online tools.
He outlined the major paramilitary organizations that operate within Iran, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, and Ashiyane. The latter is a notorious hacker group that works in conjunction with the Iranian government. All of these groups, he said, share an overarching focus on an Iranian concept used to promote the movement that became the philosophic foundation of the Islamic Revolution: westoxification. It's the loss of Persian language, culture, and influence to Western countries.