Iran foils cyber-attack


Iran foiled a major cyber-attack on its infrastructure launched by a foreign government, the Iranian telecoms minister said, two months after reports of a US cyber operation against the country.

US officials told Reuters in October the US carried out a secret cyber strike on Iran after the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blamed on Tehran. Iran denied involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

“We recently faced a highly organised and state-sponsored attack on our e-government infrastructure which was repelled by the country’s security shield,” Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Iran’s minister for communications and information technology, was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying.

“It was a big attack,” Azari-Jahromi said, adding details would be revealed later.

It was not clear whether Azari-Jahromi was referring to the US cyber-attack, which US officials said was in late September and targeted Tehran’s ability to spread “propaganda”.

Asked about Reuters’ October report of a cyber-attack, Azari-Jahromi said then: “They must have dreamt it.”

In September, Iran reviewed security measures at its key Gulf oil and gas facilities, including preparedness for cyber-attacks, following reports of Washington weighing possible cyber-attacks on Tehran.

The reported US cyber strike highlighted how President Donald Trump’s administration has been trying to counter what it sees as Iranian aggression while avoiding outright military conflict.

Iran has long been on alert over the threat of cyber-attacks. The US and Israel covertly sabotaged Iran’s disputed nuclear programme in 2009 and 2010 with the Stuxnet computer virus, which destroyed Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges.

Tensions in the Gulf escalated after Trump last year withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and re-imposed trade and financial sanctions on Tehran.