For many years, Iran has proposed a parallel, but private, Internet for its citizens. This private Internet is referred to as “halal”. Halal would provide Iranians a secure, and controlled Internet experience, one that promotes good Islamic moral values, while restricting access to the outside world. Collin Anderson, independent security analyst, has found evidence that this parallel Internet already exists and is in use today.
With the help of insiders in Iran, Anderson was able to determine that each Iranian machine connected to halal is allocated two IP addresses. Similar to a DMZ architecture used in corporate environments, one IP is used to access the worldwide Internet and the other is reserved for access to the private halal network. They noted that the internal network had the capacity to handle 17 million IP addresses. When the research team attempted to contact those IP addresses they found that over 10,000 of them appeared to already be connected to the private internal network. The internal network contained quite a bit of content too – academic websites and email services and likely plenty of government services.
The intent is pretty clear. Iranian officials can wall off the worldwide Internet at the flip of a switch, providing their citizens (and government agencies) both security, and the means to control what their citizens are allowed to access. Farfetched? Recall that Iran shutdown access to Gmail and YouTube just last week.
Sources: New Scientist