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Bringing Down Iran's State-Run Media

BY Nancy Scola | Sunday, June 14 2009

In light of the abundant Twittering and Facebooking happening this weekend in response to Iran's contested presidential election, an obvious question that has come up has to do with where and how the many engaged observers outside Iran can otherwise channel their considerable energies and interest. One answer tonight might involve a bit of cyber aggression aimed at the Iranian government. Josh Koster of the DC-based political firm Chong and Koster, along with others, has been attempting to crash www.IRIB.ir -- the Farsi-language website of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, a government-sponsored media outlet. IRIB seems to be backing the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim to re-election. On its English-language version, at least, IRIB has been promulgating his framing of his hold on office as "the true manifestation of people's [sic] right to decide their own destiny."

To try to bring down IRIB.ir, Koster and others making use of a free web app called Page Reboot. According to the site, the tool is useful for getting in on eBay auctions in their closing seconds. You can also might imagine this being a killer way to finally score Momofuku reservations. Here though, the customized anti-IRIB link being passed around through Twitter and, according to Koster, various listservs is encoded to repeatedly refresh IRIB.ir once every second -- as long as the browser window is left open. In effect, each click of the link then sets in motion a tiny catapult aiming its rocks in the direction of the Iranian government establishment. The hoped-for result is that all those many rocks add up to a denial-of-service attack that succeeds in otherwise blocking access to the site.

There's no doubt that the IRIB site is the subject of an unusual level of attention this weekend, and there's a good chance that the Iranian site isn't set up on redundant servers the way WhiteHouse.gov is, for example. Whether it's due to that interest, poor infrastructure, Koster et al's efforts, or a combination of all three and other factors, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting site is indeed, from these seats, unresponsive at the moment.