Iran Defeats ‘Second Cyber-Attack’, Minister Claims

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Telecoms minister of Iran says his country has foiled a second cyber-attack targetting government systems in less than a week

An Iranian government minister has claimed the country has fended off a second cyber-attack against it, in less than a week.

Telecoms minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted that the cyber -attack was targetting electronic systems of the Iranian government.

It comes after two US officials reportedly confirmed in October that the United States had carried out a secret cyber-attack on Iran, following a missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on 14 September.

Iran attack

The US officials said that attack took aim at Tehran’s ability to spread “propaganda”, and the strike did reportedly impact physical hardware.

But now Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi confirmed a fresh attack, although he did not provide any further details.

A similar claim had been made last Wednesday about a “massive” attack that had targeted Iran’s electronic infrastructure, the BBC reported.

Iran has also not only been attacked by the US of late, but also by its so called allies.

In October an investigation by UK and US intelligence agencies found that a Russian hacking group sought to cover its tracks by hijacking tools and techniques used by Iranian hackers.

The “piggybacking” activity by the Russian Turla group is “unique” in its level of “complexity and scale and sophistication”, Paul Chichester, director of operations for the NCSC, which is part of GCHQ, said at the time.

He said the activity goes beyond a “false flag” operation since it was not an attempt to deliberately frame someone else, but was rather an “opportunistic operation” that gave Turla information and access it wouldn’t otherwise have had.

This has happened before.

Last year US intelligence agencies said Russian attackers had attempted to disrupt the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang using attack code associated with North Korea’s Lazarus Group.

Iranian attacks?

Meanwhile Iran for its part is certainly no angel in this regard, and has been blamed in the past for conducting cyberattacks against mostly Western targets.

In April for example a major cyberattack in December 2018 on the UK’s local government networks and the Post Office was reportedly carried out by a nation-state attacker.

The attacker was identified by US security experts as Iran, or more accurately a group connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Last November the US Justice Department indicated two Iranian men, it alleged were behind the destructive SamSam ransomware outbreak that affected hundreds of organisations around the world, including the City of Atlanta, a Los Angeles hospital and the Port of San Diego, and caused more than $30 million (£24m) in damage.

Iran claimed in 2018 that an attempted cyber-attack had threatened to disrupt its telecommunications network, after saying it had discovered a new version of the Stuxnet malware targeting its nuclear infrastructure.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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