BBC hit with Iranian cyberattack

The BBC's Persian television station said Thursday that the Iranian government launched a "sophisticated cyberattack" to tamper with the network's service, available to owners of illegal satellite dishes within the country.

According to the BBC, the Iranian government jammed the company's satellite feeds into the country and swamped the broadcaster's London offices with phone calls.

"It now looks as if those who seek to disrupt or block BBC Persian may be widening their tactics," BBC director-general Mark Thompson said in planned remarks released Thursday.


Thompson went on to detail what the network knew about the Iranian government's attempt to disrupt access.

"There was a day recently when there was a simultaneous attempt to jam two different satellite feeds of BBC Persian into Iran, to disrupt the Service's London phone-lines by the use of multiple automatic calls and a sophisticated cyberattack on the BBC," he said.

"It is difficult, and may prove impossible, to confirm the source of these attacks, though attempted jamming of BBC services into Iran is nothing new and we regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious."

BBC's television service has been jammed by the Iranian government on numerous occasions in the past. The publicly funded broadcaster provides television, radio and online services in Farsi, although BBC Persian staff work outside of Iran. Thompson has said previously that Iranian authorities have targeted the extended families of BBC journalists for intimidation.

According to the network, the channel's Iranian audience has almost doubled since the government has cracked down on media within the state since 2009, with around one in 10 Iranians watching the BBC Persian television channel at least once a week.

The cyberattack comes as tensions mount between Iran and the West. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama issued a joint warning to the country, threatening severe repercussions if Iran did not halt its nuclear weapons program.

“Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences,” Obama said.

The president went on to say that "the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking," while Cameron warned "nothing is off the table."