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US Seizes Iranian Government Domains Masked as Legitimate News Outlets

US law enforcement, with the help of major technology corporations, seized nearly one hundred domains that were being used to spread propaganda by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). Four of the domains were meant to look like reputable US news outlets but were in fact controlled by the IRGC. The Department of Justice stated that the domains were unlawfully being used to influence United States domestic policy and violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Many of the other domains targeted Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, also posing as news sites. The domains targeting the US published articles relating to President Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement, COVID-19 and other topics.

Analyst Notes

The FBI has already warned the American public against increasing deception campaigns from foreign governments and cyber threat actors. These campaigns are likely to increase even more as we approach the US election. It is important to always know the source of your information and to validate it with other sources. FARA requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal. The IRGC is a wing of the Iranian military, and they have been responsible for cyber-attacks against the US in the past. President Trump announced plans to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019.