BBG: Middle East Unrests Means Interference, Cyber Attack

VOA web site users re-directed, some Radio Farda satellite signals blocked
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As more protests unfold in the Middle East, the overseer of U.S. international broadcasting says its outlets serving that area face increased satellite signal interference as well as a web Domain Name System attack.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees U.S. international broadcasting such as the Voice of America and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, including Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa.

BBG officials say on Feb. 21, an unknown party hacked the Voice of America’s primary domain name (VOANews.com), along with numerous related domains registered with Network Solutions. Web users were directed to a site claiming to be run by a group called the “Iranian Cyber Army.”

“Technology is chipping away at the stranglehold on free and fair information inside Iran,” stated BBG member said Dana Perino, who added that VOA News is committed to “providing the news at it happens in a variety of ways so that every Iranian that can get access to the free media can benefit from our journalists’ reporting.”

BBG said the DNS attack directing users away from the VOA site did not compromise VOA servers and no data was lost. It is investigating the event to determine who is responsible.

Also, since Feb. 13, there has been intermittent but frequent interference of VOA’s Persian News Network and RFE’s Radio Farda satellite signals with programming in Persian for audiences in Iran, the organization said.

As of Feb. 21, that escalated to “a continuous service interruption on one satellite channel carrying VOA’s PNN,” according to BBG. PNN is carried on three other satellite paths as well as online, including a TV satire, “Parazit.”

“Millions” of the show’s fans use proxy servers to access the program through social media sites like Facebook and YouTube, according to BBG. In the last month, Facebook recorded more than 20 million impressions on Parazit’s page.

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