Iran Says It Foiled Cyberattack on Oil Production

Hackers allegedly attack oil ministry, oil company, Kharq Island.

April 23, 2012 — -- The Iranian government claimed Monday that a massive cyberattack on the country's oil industry had been foiled, though it did damage some computer motherboards and erase some data.

"The cyberattack has not damaged the main data of the Oil Ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company," Oil Ministry spokesman Ali-Reza Nikzad told Iran's Fars News Agency. " We have a backup from all our main or secondary data, and there is no problem in this regard."

According to Nikzad, a virus attacked the ministry's main data systems, though he did not attempt to place blame for the alleged incident. Reuters reported that the virus was found late Sunday inside the control systems of the country's main oil export terminal on Kharg Island, north of the Strait of Hormuz, which ships 80 percent of Iran's oil exports.

Iran's Mehr News Agency quoted a defense official as saying Kharg Island and the Oil Ministry were taken offline to protect them. The Oil Ministry's Nikzad said that Sunday's attack had been foiled by separating the servers from each other and disconnecting servers from the internet.

Western nations, specifically Israel and the U.S., were widely believed responsible for the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010 and damaged centrifuges, delaying Iran's production of enriched uranium. Though Stuxnet was found in computers worldwide, more than half of the computers affected were inside Iran.

Iranian state media said that after an attack by the Duqu virus in 2011, the government had taken measures to insulate its infrastructure from computer malware. The Duqu virus was apparently designed to gather information that could aid in future attacks.

The alleged attack did not affect oil production or distribution.

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