Table of Contents

January 1992

Iran first connects to the internet.


Internet access becomes increasingly common, with hundreds of thousands of Iranians going online on a regular basis.


The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution issues rules on internet access, including mandatory filtering and surveillance of sites considered politically, culturally, and religiously subversive.

February 2002

The hacking forum Ashiyane is created, serving as a catalyst for Iran’s hacking community and later implicated in facilitating the Iranian government’s repression of dissidents.

April 2003

Sina Motalebi is arrested, one of the first bloggers in the world arrested for their online writings, commencing a crackdown on internet expression.

June 2005

Hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected president of Iran, marking a new era of domestic repression and international hostility.                       


Iranian threat actors begin to develop tools and conduct campaigns.

June 2009

The contested reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provokes Iran’s largest popular uprising since 1979, known as the Green Movement.

December 2009

The Iranian Cyber Army defaces Twitter—taking it offline for several hours—in response to the Green Movement.

September 2011

An Iranian hacker breaches Dutch security firm DigiNotar, allowing the Iranian government to spy on Gmail users in Iran. This remains one of the largest security breaches in the history of the internet.

April 2012

Iranian oil infrastructure is targeted by sabotage malware agents Flame and Wiper.

June 2012

New York Times reporter David Sanger makes public the details of Operation Olympic Games. One of the most sophisticated cyber attacks in history, the operation was begun by the United States and Israel in 2007 to covertly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

July 2012

The Madi malware agent, the first Iranian-attributed espionage cyber campaign, is disclosed.

August 2012

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, has data destroyed by the malware agent Shamoon.

September 2012

The first denial-of-service attacks against U.S. banks in what is known as Operation Ababil.

June 2013

Pragmatic cleric Hassan Rouhani is elected president of Iran, with the promise of improving Iran’s economy by resolving the nuclear standoff.

November 2013

Announcement of nuclear negotiations between the United States, China, Russia, UK, France, and Germany and Iran, resulting in an interim agreement.

July 2015

The nuclear deal is finalized, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

November 2016–January 2017

Cyber attacks against Saudi Arabia are renewed in Shamoon 2.