Cyberattack forces fuel stations to close across Iran: Motorists queue for hours after attack prevents payments
- Targeted attack shuttered an Iran government system managing fuel subsidises
- The closure saw lines of angry motorists stranded at fuel pumps across the state
- No group has claimed responsibility, but it is similar to an attack months earlier
A cyberattack has forced fuel stations to close across Iran.
The targeted attack shuttered a government system managing fuel subsidies and left angry motorists stranded in long lines at closed stations, weeks before the anniversary of 2019 street protests that followed fuel price hikes.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but it bears similarities to another months earlier which seemed to directly challenge Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the country’s economy buckles under American sanctions.
Those economic problems worsen as the US and Iran have yet to jointly re-enter Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran says it is on high alert for online assaults, which it has blamed in the past on the United States and Israel.
The United States and other Western powers meanwhile have accused Iran of trying to disrupt and break into their networks.
A cyber attack targeted petrol stations on Tuesday across Iran, shutting down a government system managing fuel subsidies and leaving angry motorists stranded in long lines at shuttered stations
Petrol stations across Iran were reportedly out of service and could not sell fuel after the system handling fuel subsidies sales was disrupted in what official sources said was due to a ‘cyberattack’
Some petrol stations that accept only cash and are not in the subsidy card network continued pumping fuel
State television quoted an unnamed official in the country’s National Security Council acknowledging the cyberattack, hours after it aired images of long lines of cars waiting to fill up in Tehran.
‘The disruption at the refuelling system of gas stations… in the past few hours, was caused by a cyberattack,’ state broadcaster IRIB said.
‘Technical experts are fixing the problem and soon the refuelling process…will return to normal.’
The oil ministry said only sales with smart cards used for cheaper rationed gasoline were disrupted and clients could still buy fuel at higher rates, the ministry’s news agency SHANA reported.
Associated Press journalists also saw lines of cars at Tehran stations, with the pumps off and the station closed.
‘I have been waiting a couple of hours for the gas stations to reopen so that I can fill up,’ said a motorcyclist who gave his name only as Farzin.
‘There is no fuel wherever I go.’
Lines of cars and motorbikes were stranded at fuel stations across Iran on Tuesday morning after they were forced to close by a cyberattack
Most Iranians rely on those subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country’s economic problems
The semiofficial ISNA news agency, which first 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 did not acknowledge the number’s significance, that number is associated with a hotline run through Mr Khamenei’s office that handles questions about Islamic law.
ISNA later removed its reports, claiming that it too had been hacked. Such claims of hacking can come quickly when Iranian outlets publish news that angers the theocracy.
Farsi-language satellite channels abroad published videos apparently shot by drivers in Isfahan, a major Iranian city, showing electronic billboards there reading: ‘Khamenei! Where is our gas?’
Another said: ‘Free gas in Jamaran gas station,’ a reference to the home of the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
State TV said Oil Ministry officials were holding an ’emergency meeting’ to solve the problem.
Some petrol stations that accept only cash and are not in the subsidy card network continued pumping fuel.
State TV said Oil Ministry officials said they were holding an ’emergency meeting’ to solve the problem after fuel stations across the country were forced to close
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but it bears similarities to another months earlier
Iran says it is on high alert for online assaults, such as the cyberattack which hit the country’s fuel stations today, which it has blamed in the past on the United States and Israel
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 the Hindu god of war.
Indra previously targeted firms in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has held on to power through Iran’s intervention in his country’s grinding war.
The disruptions came ahead of the second anniversary of an increase in fuel prices in November 2019 which led to widespread street protests in which hundreds were reported to have been killed by security forces.
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