Iran says cyber attack causes widespread disruption at gas stations
DUBAI, October 26 (Reuters) – A cyber attack disrupted the sale of heavily subsidized gasoline in Iran on Tuesday, state media reported, causing long lines at gas stations across the country weeks before the anniversary of the 2019 street protests that followed the fuel price hike.
Iran says it is on high alert for online assaults, which it has blamed in the past on its sworn enemies, the United States and Israel. The United States and other Western powers have meanwhile accused Iran of trying to disrupt and break into their networks.
“The disruption of the refueling system at petrol stations (…) in the last few hours was caused by a cyber attack,” state broadcaster IRIB said. “The technical experts are fixing the problem and soon the refueling process … will return to normal.”
The Petroleum Ministry said only sales with smart cards used for cheaper rationed gasoline were disrupted and customers could still buy fuel at higher prices, the news agency reported. SHANA ministry.
“This attack was probably carried out by a foreign country. It is too early to announce by which country and how it was committed,” Abolhassan Firouzabadi, secretary of the Iranian Supreme Council for cyberspace, told state television.
The disruption came ahead of the second anniversary of fuel price hikes in November 2019, which led to widespread street protests in which hundreds were reportedly killed by security forces.
Videos posted to social media showed apparently hacked digital road signs bearing messages such as “Khamenei, where is our essence?” », In reference to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reuters could not independently authenticate the videos, but the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr confirmed that some panels were hacked.
Industry officials told state TV nearly half of gas stations reopened as technicians rushed to activate manual settings after online functions were crippled by hackers. Officials assured that there was no shortage of fuel and that the remaining stations would reopen at noon on Wednesday.
In the past, Iran has been the target of a series of cyber attacks like the one in July when the Ministry of Transport website was shut down in what state media described as “cyber disruption”.
Also in July, rail services were delayed by apparent cyber attacks, with hackers posting the phone number of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s office as a number to call for information.
The Stuxnet computer virus, which is widely believed to have been developed by the United States and Israel, was discovered in 2010 after it was used to attack a uranium enrichment facility in Iran. It was the first publicly known example of a virus used to attack industrial machinery.
Dubai newsroom report; Editing by Jon Boyle and Emelia Sithole-Matarise
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