A general view of a gas station during a gas station disruption in Tehran, Iran, December 18, 2023.

Iranian MP Says Fuel Cyber Attack Was Inside Job

Thursday, 12/21/2023

A member of the Energy Committee of the Iranian Parliament claimed that the cyber attack on Iran's fuel supply system was carried out “from inside.”

Parviz Mohammadnezhad Ghazimahalleh said on Thursday that the the attack which cut off 70% of the country's petrol stations was a “physical” one. “They entered the system via a USB or a program from inside,” he added without specifying the identities of the people involved.

On Monday, the cyberattack which crippled gas stations across Iran was claimed by the hacking group "Gonjeshk-e-Darande" or Predatory Sparrow which announced the attack on X, claiming that they took out “a majority of the gas pumps throughout Iran.”

Iran accuses “Gonjeshk-e-Darande” of having links to Israel. The group rose to prominence as a hacktivist two years ago for a similar cyberattack on fuel distribution centers across Iran on the eve of the second anniversary of the bloody suppression of the November 2019 protests. In a separate incident, they claimed responsibility for hacking the state railway company.

It is the second time such an attack has taken place, Ghazimahalleh said, accusing the responsible officials of “negligence” and “carelessness.”

Lawmaker Parviz Mohammadnezhad Ghazimahalleh

The remarks came a day after Hadi Beigi-Nezhad, another member of the Energy Commission of Iran’s parliament, said a cyber virus had infected the fuel system, attributing it to an individual and a network that had infiltrated the country.

Last year, “Gonjeshk-e-Darande” garnered attention for successfully penetrating the computer systems of major steel companies in Iran. 

Tejarat News, an economic news website, announced on Thursday that the majority of gas stations in Tehran province have been reconnected to the online distribution system.

Out of a total of 330 gas stations in the province, 239 are now connected to the national fuel system, Tejarat News quoted a local official as saying.

Also on Thursday, Morteza Mahmoudvand, another Iranian lawmaker, blamed “Zionists” and Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad for the fuel system attack and urged “an equilibrium of fear” in order to fight what he called the country’s enemies.

Equilibrium of fear means doing to them what they do to us, added Mahmoudvand, who is a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian parliament.

He claimed that Israel’s cyber operations against Iranian targets will go on even after the Gaza conflict. We need to prepare ourselves in digital, technological and virtual domains not to be vulnerable to future attacks, he went on to say.

This is while the Islamic Republic has already been involved in several cyber operations against Israeli targets.

Earlier in the month, Iran-linked hackers targeted a water facility in the rural area of County Mayo in Ireland, leaving the residents without water for two days.

The attack was carried out by pro-Iran Cyber Av3ngers group which wrote a message on the infected computer system and claimed that the facility was targeted because it used Unitronics Vision Series programmable logic controllers (PLCs), an Israeli-made piece of equipment.

In November, Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center reported that the Islamic Republic has intensified its cyberattacks and influence operations since 2020, targeting the likes of Israel and Bahrain, one of the Persian Gulf states to make peace with Israel under the 2020 Abraham Accords, brokered by the US.

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