Iran says it foiled ‘massive’ cyberattack on infrastructure
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Iran says it foiled ‘massive’ cyberattack on infrastructure

Telecom minister mum on specifics, but describes the attack as ‘very organized and governmental’ in origin, day after reports of attacks on banks

Illustrative: A cybersecurity expert stands in front of a map of Iran as he speaks to journalists about the techniques of Iranian hacking, September 20, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Illustrative: A cybersecurity expert stands in front of a map of Iran as he speaks to journalists about the techniques of Iranian hacking, September 20, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s telecommunications minister announced on Wednesday that the country defused a massive cyberattack on unspecified “electronic infrastructure” but provided no specifics on the purported attack.

According to the official IRNA news agency, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said the “security attack was very large” and that authorities were investigating its exact dimensions.

He said he cannot reveal any further details beyond saying that the “attack has been identified and defused.”

It was not clear if the reported attack caused any damage or disruptions in Iran’s computer and internet systems, and whether it was the latest chapter in the US and Iran’s ongoing cyber operations targeting the other.

“I cannot give details but yes, we were targeted by a very organized and governmental cyber attack,” he said. “We are looking into the attack’s different dimensions and will release a report on it. It was a massive attack.”

In this August 31, 2019 photo, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi looks at The Nahid-1 domestically built satellite at the space research center in Tehran, Iran. (Information and Communications Technology via AP)

On Tuesday, the minister dismissed reports of hacking operations targeting Iranian banks, including local media reports that accounts of millions of customers of Iranian banks were hacked.

“Banks were not hacked,” he said, adding that the rumors evolved from a blackmailing case by a former contractor who had managed to “access complex information.”

This is not the first time Iran said it has defused a cyberattack, though it has disconnected much of its infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation, disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country’s nuclear sites in the late 2000s.

In June, Washington officials said that US military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems as US President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone in the strategic Persian Gulf.

Tensions have escalated between the US and Iran ever since Trump withdrew America last year from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and began a policy of “maximum pressure.” Iran has since been hit by multiple rounds of sanctions.

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