Report: Israeli firm sold Internet surveillance equipment to Iran

An Iranian ballistic missile is paraded through the streets of Teheran. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—An Israeli hi-tech company has been selling Internet monitoring equipment to Iran through a Danish intermediary, Bloomberg News reported.

According to the news agency, Allot Communications of Hod Hasharon has been sending its NetEnforcer equipment to a distributor in Denmark, where it was repackaged and sold to another distributor in Iran. The report names the Iranian business partner of the Israeli and Danish partners as a man called “Hossein.” It identifies the Danish partner as RanTek A/S.

Bloomberg quotes Jay Kalish, executive director of investor relations at Allot, as saying that, “We do not authorize any sales to Iran.” He said that if products were sent to Iran that would constitute a breach of contract.

Nevertheless, Bloomberg quotes three former Allot employees as saying it was well known inside the company that the equipment was headed for Iran.

Allot’s NetEnforcer conducts what is called “deep packet inspection” of Internet networks. As such, it has commercial uses such as optimizing traffic, but can also be used for more sinister purposes. The software can intercept personal e-mails and hack other private data, and even prevent people from accessing the Internet at all.

According to Bloomberg, “deep packet inspection” technology was used in Tunisia to arrest dissidents.

At the opposite end of the technological security spectrum, Israel this week canceled a multi-million dollar defense contract with Turkey out of concern that sophisticated aerial surveillance equipment might fall into Iran hands.

The defense contract, worth some $140 million, was canceled at the last minute, quashing a deal signed three years ago with Elbit Systems, a top Israeli electronic defense firm.

Asked to comment about the cancelation of the sale, a defense official said, “Ties with Turkey are extremely important to the state, but we have a security responsibility over any product that is granted approval for export.”

The air forces of Israel and Turkey have reactivated procedures for coordination that avoid potential mishaps over the eastern Mediterranean, after friendly relations between the two forces were interrupted by the 2010 Turkish flotilla incident over Israel’s weapons blockade of Gaza.

Another sign of improving relations came two weeks ago, when the Turkish military attaché attended an Israel Air Force briefing at the Uvda Air Force Base in the and observed IAF joint training maneuvers with fighters of the Italian Air Force.

Nevertheless, the security echelon is mindful of what Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a leaked speech last year. He said that Ankara’s newly appointed intelligence chief was a “friend of Iran” who might betray Israel’s secrets.