Iran Suffers Cyberattack to Main Oil Export Facility, Forced to Disconnect But Back Online

This is the jetty on Kharg Island, Iran, seen, July 1971, where oil is distributed from four major pipes, leading from the tank farm to the jetty. (Photo: AP/Horst Faas)

TEHRAN, Iran (The Blaze/AP) — An Iranian official says the country’s oil industry is working well despite an attack from hackers and a computer virus that targeted the sector’s computer systems, resulting in some components being taken offline completely for a time.

Deputy minister for oil and civil defense Hamdollah Mohammadnejad says all field units and exports of crude have continued working without interruptions. His remarks were reported Tuesday by state IRNA news agency.

Iran announced on Monday it was forced to disconnect the country’s main oil export terminal from the Internet as a preventive measure after a cyberattack. The Guardian reported the attack hit the export facilities on Kharg Island specifically, which supplies 80 percent of the country’s oil. Disconnecting from the Internet was reported to be a precaution to protect other main service not because of damage done to the system.

The Islamic Republic periodically reports cyberattacks to its nuclear and industrial sectors, saying that little damage was caused.

The Guardian drew the comparison to this reported attack and the 2010 Stuxnet worm that targeted nuclear facilities. In that attack, Iran initially denied it had been compromised and later admitted it. The Guardian has more on what Iran is doing to defend against cyberattacks in the future:

Iran’s response to the cyber-attacks has been to work on a countrywide network project, called national internet, whose primary aim is to protect Iranian military, banking and sensitive data from the outside world but also aims to be a substitute for the world wide web for ordinary users. The plan, which has not been launched yet, has drawn a great deal of criticism among Iranian web users.

An Iranian IT expert involved in Iran’s national internet project, who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity earlier this year, said: “Iran has fears of an outside cyber-attack like that of the Stuxnet, and is trying to protect its sensitive data from being accessible on the internet [by creating a secure intranet].”

(Related: Is Iran trying to launch its own Internet?)

Iran is at odds with Israel and the West over its controversial nuclear program.