Iran’s Cyber Police in Western Azerbaijan reports that in the past four months 192 individuals were arrested for cyber crime charges.
Security forces officer, Colonel Hassan KourehBolaghi told reporters that currently the majority of cyber crimes are related to activities in social media.
ISNA reports that according to KourehBolaghi there has been over 80 percent increase in the number of cyber crimes in Western Azerbaijan province compared to last year.
“Last year 102 individuals were arrested by the Cyber Police but there has been an 88 percent increase in arrests this year,” KourehBolaghi adds.
He goes on to say: “With the sudden proliferation of social media sites and new capabilities in virtual space, unlike former years where financial fraud topped the list of cyber crimes, now crimes relating to social media top the list. In the past two years, with the launch of Telegram more than half of the offences in this sector is related to the use of this app.”
KourehBolaghi identifies women as the most vulnerable target of cyber crimes saying: “Women are among the groups that are most affected by the crimes connected to social media through inconsistent content, hackers and posting of private photos.”
The report on ISNA indicates that financial fraud offences in cyber space are now overshadowed by social media crimes and describes these offences as mostly involving “online defamation and harassment”.
Fake gambling sites are another target of Iran’s Cyber Police investigations.
The ISNA report adds that with the approach of the Olympics, virtual space has become a hotbed of activity for “fake sites predicting the results of matches” and the authorities warn young people to be aware that these sites are not legitimate and their services are fraudulent.
Iranian authorities keep a close watch on internet activity across the country and many popular sites such a Facebook and Twitter are blocked from direct access, only accessible through proxies. Meanwhile many internet users have been arrested and given prison terms for posting content the government deems inappropriate.