Iranian state TV was hacked to show a broadcast calling for Khamenei’s death

This Thursday night, multiple Iranian state TV channels broadcasted footage showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and explicitly calling for the death of the country’s supreme leader, an incident that local authorities described as a cyberattack.

For quite a few seconds these images flashed on the screens, interrupting the broadcast to show the leaders of the opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. Viewers could also watch to the name of a social media account claiming to belong to a group of hackers who spread the message honoring dissidents.

The hack represented a major breach in Iranian state television, which had long been believed to be controlled and operated by the very same members of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence branches, particularly its hardline Revolutionary Guards. There hasn’t been an incident like this in years.

A clip of the incident seen by AP showed the faces of MEK leaders Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam Rajavi, suddenly superimposed on the channel’s regular news schedule at 3 p.m. A man’s voice sings: “I salute Rajavi, death to Khamenei.” A speech by Rajavi is then played briefly over the footage. He can be heard saying: “Today we continue to honor the moment when we declared the death of the reactionary. We stood firm.”

A couple days ago, Iranian state television said authorities would investigate the intrusion. This seems to be the latest in a series of severe cyberattacks targeting the Islamic Republic at a time when the world is in constant fear of nuclear war. Other attacks, which Iran has blamed on Israel, have targeted Iranian nuclear program.

At the end of 2022, an assault on Iran’s fuel distribution system crippled dozens of gas stations across the country, leading to long lines of mad drivers who couldn’t get their hands on subsidized fuel for days. A cyber attack on the Iranian railway system also caused chaos and delays in the trains.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.