Closed gas stations, long lines and the smell of cyber warfare. On Tuesday, October 26, the digital card payment system used by Iranian motorists to purchase their quota of subsidized gasoline – three times cheaper than market prices – was crippled by what the Iranian authorities described as “Cyberattack”.
An attack that “Could be the work of a foreign country”, said Abolhassan Firouzabadi, secretary of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace. If the Islamic Republic has not named the culprit by name, all eyes in Iran are once again on Israel.
The next day, Wednesday, only 5% of the country’s 4,300 service stations had been reconnected to the network, according to the national petroleum products distribution company, which was busy restoring the situation on Thursday. In some cities, such as Isfahan, piracy has spread to road signs for expressways, which called out to the Iranian Supreme Leader: “Khamenei, where is our essence?” ” A direct reference to the events of November 2019, when Iranians took to the streets to protest against the tripling of fuel prices.
Fuel, a highly sensitive subject
The issue of fuels is highly sensitive. The attack on October 26, the fifth of its kind in a year, preceded the anniversary of the 2019 protests by a few days, which had turned into an uprising against the harshly suppressed regime. “Some seek to create disorder and disruption in the daily life of people in order to anger them”, reacted the Iranian president, the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raïssi, invested in early August. “The purpose of this operation was to disrupt people’s lives in order to achieve their specific goals. ”
Dubbed the “predatory bird,” a mysterious group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s cyberattack. The same had claimed to be at the origin of an attack, on July 9, against the railway network. In stations, the display of train timetables indicated “Long delays”, canceled trains, and called on users to contact the « 64411 », a phone number belonging to the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This same number was displayed on Tuesday and Wednesday on the payment terminals of the hacked gas pumps.
Check Point, an Israeli cybersecurity firm, which analyzed the July attack, concluded that there was a set of tools similar to those used in operations, in 2019-2020, which targeted multiple targets. in Syria.
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Iran gas stations paralyzed after computer attack