Mahdi Akhavan Bahabadi, secretary of the National Center of Cyberspace, denounced as “politically motivated” American allegations of an Iranian link to the Shamoon virus that hit Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas, according to remarks carried by ISNA.
“We interpret the issue politically and in light of U.S. domestic issues as well as the (U.S. presidential) election,” he said.
‘Most destructive cyberattacks’
The virus can spread through networked computers and ultimately wipes out files by overwriting them. The Associated Press reported Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying that the virus has rendered more than 30,000 computers useless, calling them probably the most destructive cyberattacks the private sector has seen to date.
Last week a former U.S. government official said American authorities believe that Iranian hackers, likely supported by the government, were responsible for the Gulf cyberattacks. U.S. agencies have been assisting in the Gulf investigation and concluded that the level of resources needed to conduct the attack showed there was some degree of involvement by a nation state, said the former official. The American official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is classified as secret.
“American officials have said they are able to discover the source of the recent cyberattacks. We do welcome this and announce our readiness for any international cooperation to find the source of the attacks,” Bahabadi said.
The Iranian official said Tehran has already offered help to boost the companies’ cybersecurity, as Iran has itself recently been the victim of cyberattacks on its offshore oil platforms.
On Sunday, the German magazine Spiegel reported that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have developed plans to damage an oil tanker in the Gulf to create an environmental disaster.
Citing Western intelligence sources, the weekly said the top-secret plan, codenamed “Dirty Water,” is aimed at blocking the oil-rich Gulf to shipping and forcing Western countries to become involved in a huge clean-up operation.
The plan, developed by the head of the Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, and Admiral Ali Fadavi, head of the force’s navy division, would also “punish” Arab states around the Gulf for their support of the West and Israel, the report said.
A clean-up operation could only take place with Iranian technical help, requiring a temporary lifting of sanctions, the plan says, according to Spiegel.
Jafari and Fadavi have passed the plan to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who would have the final say on whether to implement it, Spiegel said.
Cyberattacks against Iran
In the same time, Iran periodically reports the discovery of viruses and other malicious programs in government, nuclear, oil and industrial networks. On Monday, Tehran said it had successfully blocked a cyberattack on the computer network of its offshore drilling platforms.
It briefly shut down part of its oil facilities because of a cyberattack in May.
Iran blames Israel and the United States for the attacks. Israel has done little to deflect suspicion it uses viruses against Iran.
Israel alarmed over cyberattacks
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel was facing an increasing number of cyberattacks.
“There have been increasing efforts to carry out cyberattacks on Israel’s computer infrastructure,” AFP reported Netanyahu as saying at the weekly cabinet meeting, without giving details.
“Every day there are many attempts to infiltrate Israel’s computer systems. That’s why I established the National Cyber Directorate last year, which serves as an electronic ‘Iron Dome’ against computer terrorism,” he added.
He did not specify which systems had come under attack, nor did he say who was behind them.