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Source: Reuters

Dec 18, 2023

Iran, Israeli media say cyber attack disrupts petrol stations across Iran

DUBAI, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A hacking group that Iran accuses of having links to Israel claimed it carried out cyberattacks that disrupted services at petrol stations across Iran on Monday, Iranian state TV and Israeli local media reported.

Oil Minister Javad Owji earlier told Iranian state TV that services had been disrupted at about 70% of Iran's petrol stations and that outside interference was a possible cause.

Iran's state TV news said the Predatory Sparrow group claimed it was behind the disruption. Israeli local media outlets also reported the claim.

"This cyberattack was carried out in a controlled manner to avoid potential damage to emergency services," Predatory Sparrow said in its statement according to Iranian media.

Iran's civil defence agency, which is responsible for the country's cybersecurity, said it was still considering all possible causes for the disruptions as it investigated.

Iranian state media added the that hackers group had in the past claimed cyberattacks against Iranian petrol stations, rail networks and steel factories.

The petrol outages on Monday are the first such incident since 2021, when a major cyberattack in Iran disrupted the sale of fuel, causing long queues at stations across the country. Petrol pump prices in Iran are heavily subsidised.

Iran accused Israel and the United States of being behind those attacks.

The disruption began early Monday and was especially acute in Tehran, forcing many petrol stations to operate manually, Iranian media reported.

"At least 30% of gas stations are working, with the rest gradually resolving the disruption in services," Owji said.

Reza Navar, a spokesperson for Iran's petrol stations association, told semi-official Fars news agency that a software issue was behind the disruption.

"A software problem with the fuel system has been confirmed in some stations across the country and experts are currently fixing the issue," Navar said.

Navar added that there was no fuel supply shortage but called on drivers to not go to petrol stations.

The oil ministry earlier told state TV that the disruption was not linked to plans to increase the price of fuel, a policy that caused widespread protests in 2019 and led to violent repression.

State TV said petrol stations were seeking to provide fuel manually and that it will take at least 6 to 7 hours to resolve the problems.

Israel has not yet commented about the cyber attack in Iran.

Israel's Cyber Unit on Monday said Iran and Hezbollah were behind an attempted cyber attack on a hospital in northern Israel about three weeks ago. It said that the attack was thwarted but that the hackers were able to retrieve "some of the sensitive information stored in the hospital's information systems".

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Additional reporting by Henriette Chacar in Jerusalem; editing by John Davison, David Goodman, Jason Neely and Gerry Doyle

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