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October 24, 2022

Hacktivists publish 27GB of data raided from the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran

Online protests continue to rock Iran as hacktivist gang Black Reward publishes emails raided from the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation.

By Claudia Glover

The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) has admitted to suffering a data breach over the weekend. An Iranian hacktivist group called Black Reward has claimed responsibility for the attack, joining the wave of protests across the country and online triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini. According to the gang, the leak contains more than 100,000 emails, comprising 27GB of data.

Hacktivists leak data from Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran
Online protests continue to rock Iran as gang Black Reward publishes emails raided from the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran. (Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock)

Hacktivists leak data from Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran

On Sunday, Iranian state media admitted that emails from the AEOI had been hacked and released over the weekend. The clip explains that an email server belonging to one of its subsidiaries had been hacked from a foreign country, allowing information to be published online.

However, an Iranian hacktivism gang called Black Reward has claimed responsibility for the breach. It announced on Twitter on Friday that it had stolen 50GB of data from an email system in Iran’s nuclear program, warning that the nuclear agency had 24 “difficult and important hours for the Islamic Republic” to meet the gang’s demands. Black Reward wanted the Islamic Republic of Iran to release all political prisoners and detained protesters. The company missed the deadline. 

Black Reward released a statement on Telegram and Twitter, reading, “As a part of the Iranian hacker community and born from among you, unlike Westerners, we are not flirting with criminal mullahs, and if we say something, we follow it 100%.” It goes on to explain that it, “will publish the download links respectively in the next few hours after uploading the information in the online file sharing service anonymously” .

This information reportedly includes “the contracts of Iran Atomic Energy Production and Development Company with domestic and foreign partners, management and operational schedules of Bushehr power plant, identity details and pay stubs of engineers and employees of the company as well as passports and visas of Iranian and Russian specialists of Bushehr power plant,” states information the gang has posted to social media. 

The company has yet to respond to a request for comment from Tech Monitor.

The AEOI is the main Iranian government agency that operates nuclear fuel cycle installations and nuclear energy in the country. It is responsible for national nuclear technology research and development projects. Its headquarters are in the Northern Amir Abad district in Tehran, but it has facilities throughout the country.

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Iran rocked by protests

This attack has been implemented as part of a wave of dissidence across Iran in retaliation to a young woman dying after being arrested for wearing her hijab too loosely. Mahsa Amini’s death was publicised on 25 September. Subsequently protests in the streets and online have rocked the country. 

Amini died in hospital in Tehran on 16 September, with injuries sustained during her arrest reportedly causing her death, though this has been denied by the Iranian government. The national protests initially focussed on Iran’s state-mandated hijab laws, but have turned into a serious challenge to the country’s ruling clerics. 

Hacktivist collective Anonymous has joined in with online protests, attacking government websites and releasing phone numbers and other data of Iranian lawmakers. The Iranian online protest movement has been called ‘OpIran’. Black Reward posts #OpIran with its statements on social media.

The gang describes itself as “a part of the Iranian hacker community that will fight with you, our countrymen, until the end to confront the criminal regime of Mullahs and destroy them.” They sign off with the tag, “For Women, Life, Freedom.”

A mullah is an honorific title for Shia and Sunni Muslim clergymen.

Read more: ‘Heart-warming for the revolution’: Hacktivists from Anonymous join Iran protests

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