In what appears to be a new form of protest in Iran, hackers took control of sign boards at a major airport for the second time in two weeks on June 6.
The hackers defaced sign boards at Tabriz airport in northern Iran in the evening, showing a protest message against “wasting Iranians’ resources” and expressing support for Iranian truckers who have been on strike across Iran for several weeks.
A group introducing itself as Tapandegan (Palpitaters) assumed responsibility for the hacking in a tweet on June 7.
This is the same group that hacked sign boards at Mashad airport May 24, posting similar messages for several hours.
News of the hacking broke almost immediately on social media as Iranians posted tweets and pictures of the incident. However, the posts came under pseudonyms as users inside Iran fear a heavy-handed clampdown by the government.
Meanwhile, an e-mail sent around by Tapandegan to Iranian journalists said, “Two weeks ago, we took over the computer systems of Mashhad Airport in support of the national protests. We protested against wasting Iranian lives and assets by IRGC. And, today, we support the truck drivers, the bazar, and the strikers!”
It appears that the incidents in Tabriz and Mashad are only the beginning of a new trend, as the hackers’ new message stressed, “They cannot shut us up any longer. We will keep carrying out actions like this.”
The hackers also called on the Iranian government “to improve the economy.”
The messages posted by hackers include two hashtags in Persian about “truckers’ strike,” and “nationwide protests.”
The message posted on sign boards at Mashad Airport also protested against the IRGC’s presence in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region.
Airport officials in both cities turned off the sign boards for several hours after the hacking and made apologetic public statements.
Hacking attacks in Iran have been on the rise recently. In August 2016, Internet security experts warned that hackers have found access to banking and contact details of millions of Iranians by hacking into their Telegram accounts.
However, it is not yet clear whether this was a genuine warning or an attempt by hardliners in the Iranian government to convince people to leave Telegram and migrate to home-grown messaging services, where the government has easy access to users’ private information and can intercept their communications.