Iran Shutting off the Internet at its Oil Terminals

by Patrick Brennan

Due to more cyber-assaults on its oil terminals’ (presumably, like Stuxnet, from the U.S. or Israel), Iran has started to disconnect their terminals from the Internet. No word yet on whether oil production has actually increased thanks to less-distracted workers. The Times reports:


Iran disconnected several of its main Persian Gulf oil terminals from the Internet on Monday, local news media reported, as technicians were struggling to contain what they said were intensifying cyberattacks on the Oil Ministry and its affiliates.

Iranian officials said the virus attack, which began in earnest on Sunday afternoon, had not affected oil production or exports, because the industry is still primarily mechanical and does not rely on the Internet. Officials said they were disconnecting the oil terminals and possibly some other installations in an effort to combat the virus.

“Fortunately our international oil selling division has not been affected,” said a high-level manager at the Oil Ministry who asked not to be mentioned for security reasons. “There is no panic, but this shows we have shortcomings in our security systems.” . . .

The Iranian Students’ News Agency said that the virus, called “wiper” by its creator, had successfully erased information on hard disks at the Oil Ministry’s headquarters, a hulking black glass skyscraper on Taleghani Street in central Tehran. The ministry appears to have been the initial target of the virus, which the Iranian authorities say they first noticed in March but apparently were unable to dismantle. The Web sites of several oil related institutions, like the National Iranian Oil Company, which handles most oil sales in the country, were down on Sunday and Monday. It was unclear whether the virus took the sites down or if they were switched off by the Oil Ministry.

Two years ago, a computer worm called Stuxnet attacked Iranian nuclear facilities, knocking out an unknown number of centrifuges used for enriching uranium. . . . No one has claimed responsibility for Stuxnet, but Israeli officials openly expressed glee over the attack. The United States has denied any involvement.

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