World

Cyberattack closes gas stations across Iran

October 26, 2021
Most Iranians rely on those subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country's economic problems.
Most Iranians rely on those subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country's economic problems.

TEHRAN — A major disruption at gas stations across Iran was caused by a cyberattack on software supporting a subsidized card payment system relied upon by millions of drivers, state media reported.

The official announcement came after long lines formed at stations in Tehran and elsewhere Tuesday.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the disruption may have been timed to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of protests that erupted after the government raised fuel prices in mid-November 2019.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the outage. However, electronic billboards in one major city also appeared to have been targeted in the hack.

An Iranian state television account online shared images of long lines of cars waiting to fill up in Tehran. An Associated Press journalist also saw lines of cars at a Tehran gas station, with the pumps off and the station closed.

State TV did not explain what the issue was, but said Oil Ministry officials were holding an “emergency meeting” to solve the technical problem.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency, which called the incident a cyberattack, said it saw those trying to buy fuel with a government-issued card through the machines instead receive a message reading “cyberattack 64411.”

Most Iranians rely on those subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country's economic problems.

While ISNA didn't acknowledge the number's significance, that number is associated to a hotline run through the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that handles questions about Islamic law.

The use of the number “64411” mirrored an attack in July targeting Iran's railroad system that also saw the number displayed. Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point later attributed the train attack to a group of hackers that called themselves Indra, after a Hindu deity.

Indra previously targeted firms in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has held onto power through Iran's intervention in his country's grinding war.

Iran has faced a series of cyberattacks, including one that leaked video of abuses its notorious Evin prison in August.

The country disconnected much of its government infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus — widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation — disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country’s nuclear sites in the late 2000s. — Agencies


October 26, 2021
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