Iran's Oil Industry Faces Cyber Attack
April 24, 2012

Iran’s Oil Industry Faces Cyber Attack

An Iranian news agency reported on Monday that the Iranian oil ministry's computer network came under cyber attack, according to reports by the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.

Mehr reported that the Islamic Republic has disconnected the country's main oil export terminal from the Internet as a preventative measure.

The cyberattack affected some data, according to the report, but the ministry has backed it up.  It also said that oil operations were not affected.

Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, deputy oil minister in charge of civil defense, said that the Kharg Island oil terminal, the ministry headquarters, and other facilities were all taken offline.

The Kharg facility handles about 80 percent of Iran's daily 2.2 million barrels of oil export.

Mohammadnejad said Iranian authorities have set up a crisis unit and were working out a way to neutralize the attacks.

He said that people working at the Kharge oil terminal have not been able to send or receive any email since Sunday, but they are still able to use telephone, fax, or text messaging.

Alireza Nikzad, a ministry spokesman, said in a statement that Iran's oil ministry website has also come under attack.

The ministry said that its public web servers were isolate from the main servers during the attack, and that critical oil data has not been compromised.

The websites of the Iranian oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company were off-line for hours after they and other affiliated official sites were brought down, according to Iranian media.

Oil ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad told the ministry's news website SHANA that contrary to initial reports, the virus has successfully wiped out data from official servers.

"To say that no data was harmed is not right. Only data related to some of the users have been compromised," he told SHANA.

The attack is reminiscent of the Stuxnet worm cyber attack in Iran in 2010, which penetrated at least 30,000 computers.

The virus specifically targeted computers that were linked to centrifuges carrying out uranium enrichment for its nuclear program.  It successfully set back the atomic program in Iran a few months.

Iran has been targeted by other infections, including "Stars" and "Doku", since Stuxnet was first reported.

Since the attacks, Iran has announced that it would take a series of cyberdefense measures, establishing a Supreme Council of Cyberspace.