Iranian oil industry disrupted by notorious malware attack

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An Iranian computer technician standing in front of huge servers. Photo - Reuters

Iran’s state-controlled media reported that the country’s oil industry has been the victim of a major cyber attack on Sunday.

The Mehr news agency reported Monday the Iranian oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company and a number of other companies associated with the Iranian government were target of a notorious computer worm with their websites down for hours until restored by computer engineers.

A worm is a computer virus that is capable of self-replicating in order to spread deeper into a computer system.

The Mehr news agency also reported that Iran’s main oil terminal on Kharg island in the Gulf has been disconnected from the Internet since Sunday along with facilities in other parts of the Islamic republic.

According to the National Iranian Oil Terminals Company, Kharg terminal handles 90% of Iran’s oil exports.

Mehr said the Internet disconnection “has not caused any problem” in oil production and exports.

Oil ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad confirmed that, contrary to initial reports, the malware succeeded in corrupting data on official servers.

“To say that no data was harmed is not right. Only data related to some of the users have been compromised,” he said.

Mehr news agency quoted a civil defence official at the ministry as saying that Iran’s oil ministry has set up a “cyber crisis committee” to confront the “cyber attacks”.

Iran is OPEC’s second-biggest exporter, after Saudi Arabia, and relies on crude sales bring 80% of foreign currency revenues and funds more than half of government expenditures.

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