Monday, 8 October 2012

Israeli cyber attacks targeted offshore oil, gas platforms – Iran IT head

Iran’s offshore oil and gas platforms were the targets of the cyber attacks aimed at crippling the country. All threats were repelled and Israel was behind them, according to head of IT at the Iranian Offshore Oil Company, Mohammad Reza Golshani.
Golshani told Reuters that the attack happened over the past couple of weeks, was routed through China, and affected only the communications systems of the network.
It is almost two weeks since the managing director of the National Iranian Offshore Oil Company Mahmoud Zirakchianzadeh announced his company’s negotiations over deals worth US$14 billion.
Iran is currently under pressure from the international sanctions, mainly in oil exports, imposed by the UN Security council, the US, and the EU.
On Saturday, the EU threatened to ban Iran’s natural gas export to put pressure on the country’s nuclear program. Iran’s now exporting to Turkey and has swap deals with Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The possible ban was described by a spokesman of the oil ministry Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar as a "propaganda campaign" because “right now no EU member imports Iranian gas supply.”
The UN Security Council imposed four rounds of sanctions in efforts to pressure Tehran to give up its nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at creating a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. The sanctions targeted Iran’s oil exports and cut off access to international banking networks.
Tehran is being pressured not only with sanctions: the country has been variously attacked by Flame, Stuxnet and Gauss, three viruses that gathered information on sensitive Iranian equipment and slowed down its nuclear centrifuges. They were tacitly confirmed to have been launched by the US and Israel, as a way of slowing down the country’s atomic program, which the West says is aimed at eventually producing nuclear weapons. A claim Iran emphatically denies.
Iran has reported several computer attacks in recent months and a Revolutionary Guard commander said last month the country would defend itself in case of a "cyber war".
Tehran is seeking to developing a national Internet system, which it says would improve cyber security. But many Iranians say the plan is the latest way to control their access to the Web, which is already highly censoredHead of the Communications and Information Technology (IT) Department of the National Iranian Offshore Oil Company (NIOOC) Mohammad Reza Golshani said his company had come under an Israeli cyber attack in the last two weeks, but NIOOC's IT experts shielded the company against the attack and repelled the threat. 

"Fortunately, due to the separation of the internet network from our intranet network, the company remained safe," Golshani told the Persian Service of the Iranian students news agency. 

Asked about the source of the cyber attack, he said that later investigations showed that the attack was waged by Israel via different IP addresses used in such different countries as China and other parts of the world. 

Golshani also said that the cyber attack on the NIOOC facilities left almost no negative impact on the company's structures and failed to damage or steal the company's digital data. 

It could only disturb part of the Iranian oil platforms' phone calls, making us bar incoming phone call at our platforms in the Persian Gulf, he said, and added, "Yet, the problem was solved due to the efforts made by the company's experts in the ITC unit." 

Iran's oil export facilities also in April were the apparent target of computer malware. On April 24, an Iranian oil official said the country's experts had contained cyber attacks against the country's Oil Ministry. 

The Oil Minister's Deputy for Engineering Affairs, Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, told the media at the time that "a few number of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) servers were recently attacked by a malware, but the cyber security experts of the oil industry contained it immediately". 

Also, Alireza Nikzad, a spokesman for Iran's oil ministry, told FNA in April the cyber attack was a "virus" that "attempted to delete data on the oil ministry servers." He identified the virus as "Viper". 

"This cyberattack has not damaged the main data of the oil ministry and the NIOC since the general servers are separate from the main servers; even their cables are not linked to each other and are not linked to Internet service," Nikzad said. "We have a backup from all our main or secondary data, and there is no problem in this regard." 

Earlier today, Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi announced that Iran is involved in massive and continued cyber war with the enemies who make constant attempts to harm the country's infrastructures, saying that Iran's highly skilled experts have deterred all enemy threats. 

"These threats are posed every day and the intelligence apparatus counters and obviates enemy's actions in the cyber space every day," Moslehi told reporters in Tehran on Monday. 

He underlined Iran's capability of deterring cyber threats, and said, "The Islamic Republic is so powerful in the cyber space that (even) leaders of the arrogant powers admit and acknowledge our country's successes as well." 

Iran announced in June that it had detected plans by the United States, Israel and Britain to launch a massive cyber strike only days after talks between senior Iranian and western negotiators in Moscow. 

In the last few years the United States and Israel have created several malware - including the Stuxnet worm, which is reportedly the most malefic piece of malware ever created, and its kin, Duqu, as well as the Flame malware - and used them to attack Iran's nuclear facilities as well as other major industrial sites and centers. 

But, Iran's continued nuclear progress in all these years attests to the fact that the country has successfully repelled all these cyber attacks. 

Iran's Minister of Communication and Information Technology Reza Taqipour announced in July that Iran has successfully confronted sophisticated spy malwares and thwarted all cyber attacks against the country's infrastructures. 

Speaking to FNA, Taqipour divided viruses into two categories, first for public users and the second for spying purposes. 

As regards the second category, the Iranian Minister said, "The second type (of viruses) has been developed by governments and are specifically sent via governments, and their mission is spying on infrastructures and the like. All of them have so far been confronted and our preparedness to do so (defusing cyber attacks) is growing on a daily basis." 

He said in some days, Iran was targeted by two million cyber attacks, but could confront and repel all these malware attacks. 

In May, Iran announced that its cyber experts detected and contained a complicated Israeli spy virus known as "Flame". 

The head of the Information Technology Organization of Iran, Ali Hakim Javadi, said earlier that the country's experts had managed to produce anti-virus software that could spot and remove the detected computer virus "Flame". 

Javadi said that the indigenous anti-virus software had been capable of detecting the virus and cleaning up the infected computers. 

He said that the malware was different from other viruses and was more destructive than Stuxnet which was a comprehensive US-Israeli program designed to disrupt Iran's nuclear technology. 

In October 2010, the Iranian intelligence minister stated that Iran had detected and thwarted a virus aimed at infecting the country's nuclear plant system. 

Iran said the computer worm, Stuxnet, had infected some IP addresses in Iran, including the personal computers of the staff at the country's first nuclear power plant, Bushehr. Tehran said Israel and the US were behind the infection of its industrial sites.

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