In the middle of a cyber attack with Israel – an attack campaign using the Log4j vulnerability against Israeli targets was attributed on 15 December to the advanced persistent threat (APT) group Charming Kitten (aka APT 35) by the Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point – Iran can count on increasingly close cooperation with Russia. The cybersecurity technology distributor Lotus Gostar Arya (or Cysec), for example, is operating between Tehran and Kazan, in Russia’s Tatarstan region.
Founded in Iran in 2010 by Iranian Mohammad Reza Eskandari, Cysec is now run from Tatarstan by Ali Ghanei. However, the company continues to distribute its technologies, including those developed by Russia’s Kaspersky and Finland’s F-Secure, in Iran. On its website, Cysec states that it works with several major infrastructure companies as well as the Iranian presidency.
Growing Russian-Iranian cyber relations
Earlier this year, the foreign ministers of the two countries, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Sergei Lavrov, met in Moscow to sign a cooperation agreement on cybersecurity, which consists of better intelligence sharing. The agreement is by no means a first in Russian-Iranian relations. The Russian ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, meets regularly with Revolutionary Guard (or Pasdaran) General Gholam Reza Jalali, who is in charge of Iran’s “passive cyber defence”. The latter also benefited from Russian know-how in 2015 to set up the Pasdaran cyber-defence centre