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Iranian President Says Cyber ​​Attack Intended To Create ‘Mess’ At Gasoline Pumps: NPR


Cars are lining up to refuel at a gas station because pump machines are out of order in Tehran. Gas stations across Iran suffered a widespread failure on Tuesday in a system that allows consumers to buy fuel with a government-issued card, halting sales.

Vahid Salemi / AP


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Iranian President Says Cyber ​​Attack Intended To Create ‘Mess’ At Gasoline Pumps: NPR

Cars are lining up to refuel at a gas station because pump machines are out of order in Tehran. Gas stations across Iran suffered a widespread failure on Tuesday in a system that allows consumers to buy fuel with a government-issued card, halting sales.

Vahid Salemi / AP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Iranian president said on Wednesday that a cyberattack that crippled all gas stations in the Islamic Republic was intended to “anger people by creating unrest and disruption”, as Long queues still snaked around the pumps a day after the incident began. .

Ebrahim Raisi’s remarks stopped at blaming the attack, which rendered the government-issued electronic cards that many Iranians use to buy subsidized fuel at the pump unnecessary. However, his remarks suggest that he and other members of the theocracy believe that anti-Iranian forces led the assault.

Iranian President Says Cyber ​​Attack Intended To Create ‘Mess’ At Gasoline Pumps: NPR

A worker leans against a gas pump that has been turned off at a gas station in Tehran. Gas stations across Iran suffered on Tuesday from a widespread failure of a system that allows consumers to buy fuel with a government-issued card, halting sales.

Vahid Salemi / AP


hide caption

toggle legend

Vahid Salemi / AP

Iranian President Says Cyber ​​Attack Intended To Create ‘Mess’ At Gasoline Pumps: NPR

A worker leans against a gas pump that has been turned off at a gas station in Tehran. Gas stations across Iran suffered on Tuesday from a widespread failure of a system that allows consumers to buy fuel with a government-issued card, halting sales.

Vahid Salemi / AP

“There should be serious preparation in the area of ​​cyber warfare and the related bodies should not allow the enemy to pursue their worrying goals of creating a problem in the trend of people’s lives,” Raisi said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack that began on Tuesday, although it bears similarities to months earlier that appeared to directly challenge Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the country’s economy country collapses under US sanctions.

Abolhassan Firouzabadi, secretary of the Supreme Council for Cyberspace, linked the attack to one that targeted Iran’s rail system in July, in comments reported by the state-run IRNA news agency.

“It is possible that the attack, like a previous one against the rail system, was carried out from abroad,” Firouzabadi said.

He added that an investigation into the incident was underway.

On Wednesday morning, IRNA quoted another official who claimed that 80% of Iranian gas stations had started selling fuel again. Associated Press reporters saw long lines at several gas stations in Tehran. One station had a line of 90 cars waiting for fuel. Those who bought ended up paying higher, unsubsidized prices.

Tuesday’s attack rendered the government-issued electronic cards that many Iranians use to buy subsidized fuel at the pump unnecessary. The semi-official ISNA news agency, which initially called the incident a cyberattack, said it saw people trying to buy fuel with a government-issued card through the machines receiving a message that read “cyber attack 64411 “.

Although ISNA did not recognize the importance of this number, this number is associated with a hotline run by the Khamenei office that deals with issues of Islamic law. ISNA later suppressed its reports, claiming it had also been hacked. Such hacking allegations can arise quickly when Iranian media publishes information that anger the theocracy.

Farsi-language satellite channels overseas published videos apparently shot by drivers in Isfahan, a large Iranian city, showing electronic billboards reading: “Khamenei! Where is our gas? Another said, “Free gasoline at the Jamaran gas station,” a reference to the home of the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The use of the number “64411” reflected the July attack on Iran’s rail system which also saw the number displayed. Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point later attributed the train attack to a group of hackers who called themselves Indra, named after the Hindu god of war.

Indra previously targeted companies in Syria, where President Bashar Assad retained power thanks to Iran’s intervention in his country’s bitter war.

Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, which is home to the world’s fourth-largest reserves of crude oil despite decades of economic hardship.

Subsidies allow Iranian motorists to buy regular gasoline at 15,000 rials per liter. That’s 5 cents per liter, or about 20 cents per gallon. After a monthly quota of 60 liters, it costs 30,000 rials per liter. It’s 10 cents per liter or 41 cents per gallon. Regular gasoline costs 89 cents per liter or $ 3.38 per gallon on average in the United States, according to AAA.

In 2019, Iran faced days of mass protests in around 100 towns and villages against rising gasoline prices. Security forces arrested thousands of people and Amnesty International said it believed 304 people were killed in a government crackdown. Tuesday’s cyberattack occurred in the same month in the Persian calendar as the gasoline protests in 2019.

The attack also occurred on the birthday of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who, suffering from cancer, fled the country in 1979 just before the Islamic Revolution.

Iran has faced a series of cyber attacks, including one that leaked video of abuse at its infamous Evin prison in August.

The country disconnected much of its government infrastructure from the Internet after the Stuxnet computer virus – widely believed to be a joint US-Israel creation – disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges at nuclear sites across the country in the late 2000s .

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