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Fuel crisis in Iran: cyberattack hits petrol pumps, Israel tied to hacking

Previously, the Gonjeshke Darande faction had targeted a key steel company in Iran’s southwest in 2022. They also claimed responsibility for a cyber assault on the country’s fuel distribution system in 2021, which led to widespread station closures and extensive queues of frustrated motorists.

Fuel crisis in Iran: cyberattack hits petrol pumps, Israel tied to hacking AJR
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First Published Dec 18, 2023, 5:49 PM IST

A cyber crisis surfaced in Iran as a hacking group, purportedly from Israel, allegedly disrupted a significant portion of the country’s gas stations. Termed "Gonjeshke Darande" or "predatory sparrow," this group reportedly executed a disabling maneuver, causing approximately 70% of Iran’s gas stations to cease operations, reported the Times of Israel.

The disruption, flagged as a probable case of sabotage involving cyberattacks, was highlighted on Iranian state TV. It attributed the station irregularities to a "software problem" and advised citizens against rushing to the operational stations.

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Previously, the Gonjeshke Darande faction had targeted a key steel company in Iran’s southwest in 2022. They also claimed responsibility for a cyber assault on the country’s fuel distribution system in 2021, which led to widespread station closures and extensive queues of frustrated motorists.

The hackers behind the recent incident asserted that they had systematically disabled gas pumps across Iran. Their motivation was cited as a reaction to what they deemed as the Islamic Republic's aggressive actions in the region. Additionally, they issued a cautionary message to Khamenei, implying consequences for what they termed as playing with fire.

This development unfolds amidst escalated conflicts involving Iran-backed entities such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, engaging in heightened hostilities against Israel, especially during the ongoing war with Hamas.

Iran has grappled with a slew of cyber assaults on various fronts, targeting its filling stations, railways, and industrial sectors. Instances of breaching surveillance cameras in government buildings, including prisons, have been reported in the past. Moreover, the country took measures to isolate much of its government infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus, believed to be a US-Israeli creation, disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges at nuclear sites in the late 2000s.

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The nation's limitations in accessing updated hardware and software due to Western sanctions have rendered it reliant on older, unsupported systems and Chinese-manufactured electronics. This predicament may create vulnerabilities, potentially making Iran more susceptible to cyber threats.

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