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Iran investigates attack on fuel network as Israeli group claims responsibility

A cyber attack has disrupted the operations of petrol stations across Iran, with the nation’s government pointing the finger at Israel.

user icon Daniel Croft
Tue, 19 Dec 2023
Iran investigates attack on fuel network as Israeli group claims responsibility
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Services at roughly 70 per cent of fuel stations across the country have been disabled, with Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji saying on Monday (18 December) that a cyber attack was to blame.

The outage began on Monday, particularly affecting petrol stations in Tehran. The incident was originally believed to be connected to proposed plans to increase fuel prices, but the Oil Ministry confirmed that there was no connection.

A spokesperson for Iran’s petrol stations association told media that there was no fuel shortage but advised that drivers avoid going to stations if possible,

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

Several petrol stations said they were looking to provide fuel manually, with over 50 per cent of stations doing so.

Israel-linked threat group Predatory Sparrow, known as Gonjeshke Darande in Persian, took responsibility for the breach, according to both Iranian state and Israeli media publications.

“We, Gonjeshke Darande, carried out another cyber attack today, taking out a majority of the gas pumps throughout Iran,” said Predatory Sparrow.

“This cyber attack comes in response to the aggression of the Islamic Republic and its proxies in the region.

“Khamenei, playing with fire has a price.

“A month ago we warned you that we’re back and that we will impose cost for your provocations. This is just a taste of what we have in store.”

The group added that the attack “is only a very small part of our capabilities against the evil of your terrorist axis in the region”.

Despite the aggressive language, the threat group added that it was careful not to disrupt emergency services.

“This cyber attack was carried out in a controlled manner to avoid potential damage to emergency services,” it said.

Iran’s civil defence agency has begun an investigation into the attack, saying it is still considering all possible causes for the outage.

When asked about the incident, spokesperson for the Israeli government Tal Heinrich said: “We have nothing to say about Iran’s claims.”

Predatory Sparrow’s attacks are in response to Iran’s support for Hamas, according to a group representative who was interviewed under a week after the 7 October attack on Israel.

The group said it was preparing for future attacks.

“In the event that we detect any kind offensive action in any realm from any proxy against our country we will attack and cause permanent and unimaginable damage to any target we see fit via air, sea, land and cyber,” the group said.

“When we will start, the gates of hell will open.”

As pointed out by Iranian media, Predatory Sparrow has attacked the Iranian fuel network in the past, as well as other critical infrastructure such as rail networks and steel manufacturing.

The group claimed a cyber attack was behind an explosion at a steel factory that occurred last year, posting a video of the explosion.

Fuel services were also disrupted in Iran in 2021, with the nation’s government saying either Israel or the US was to blame.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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