Iran is poised to build its first "cyber army", a top official has announced.
Brig Gen Gholamreza Jalali, commander of the Civil Defence Organisation, claimed the Islamic republic would follow the example of the US, which is downsizing its army for larger cyber defence infrastructure.
"Countries like Iran also have to set up and upgrade their cyber defence headquarters and even build a cyber army," he told Press TV.
Tehran opened a cyber defence headquarters four months ago. Its aim is to prevent computer worms breaking into and stealing data from Iran's networks, including nuclear facilities, power plants, data centres and banks.
Speaking at Iran's first national conference on cyber defence in Tehran, Jalali said Iran was one of the first countries to be attacked by hackers over the past two years.
"The facilities that came under attack managed to survive, which means Iran is to a great extent immune to such attacks," he said.
Last year, Tehran authorities discovered a sophisticated Trojan called Duqu, a computer worm which surreptitiously enters a system and leaks information. In November, Iranian officials announced the development of a software program that can control the spyware.
Duqu is the successor of Stuxnet, a virus identified in June 2010 and designed to infect computers using supervisory control and data acquisition systems.
The latest development came after reports that Iranian hackers attempted a cyber attack on Bank Hapoalim, the largest bank in Israel.