(Bloomberg) -- Iran said a foreign country was likely behind a cyberattack that paralyzed gas stations nationwide, exposing weaknesses in the Islamic Republic’s critical computer networks weeks ahead of the anniversary of massive protests over petrol prices.
Abolhassan Firouzabadi, the head of Iran’s Supreme Cyberspace Council, said it was too early to determine which country carried out the attack and investigations were ongoing, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.
Iran’s been a frequent target of cyberattacks since its nuclear program became a flashpoint in its relations with the West more than a decade ago. It often accuses Israel, a fierce critic of the 2015 deal and U.S. efforts to rejoin it, of sabotaging uranium enrichment facilities, causing fires and explosions.
President Ebrahim Raisi said the assault intended to “foster disruption and disorder in people’s lives,” and vowed to better equip the country to defend against future attacks. Millions of families are already facing soaring prices and a struggling economy, with key revenue-generating oil exports still hindered by stalled talks over reviving the landmark nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran Gas Stations Hit in Cyberattack on Subsidized Petrol
The strike targeted software that controls a fuel-card payment system for state-subsidized petrol. Drivers have been left without fuel or dependent on unsubsidized, more costly petrol at gas stations that are still operational.
Software at around 4,600 gasoline stations will be modified to prevent similar incidents from happening again, Firouzabadi said. Some 220 petrol stations have been reconnected to the online payment system so far, but the vast majority -- around 3,000 -- were taking payments manually and selling gas at open-market rates, the state-run Shana news reported.
A sudden hike in the price of gasoline in November 2019 triggered the most violent and deadliest anti-government protests since the 1979 revolution. As of Wednesday morning, there were no reports of unrest in the country.
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