Israeli light rail company hit in cyberattack amid Iranian reports of ‘metro hack’

Denial of service, said to cause no lasting damage, is latest apparent salvo in Israel-Iran cyberwar

A July 4, 2022, report on the Iranian Tasnim news agency about a cyberattack on the "Israel Metro." (Screen capture/Twitter)
A July 4, 2022, report on the Iranian Tasnim news agency about a cyberattack on the "Israel Metro." (Screen capture/Twitter)

The company building the light rail network for the Tel Aviv area said Monday that its website was temporarily disrupted by a foreign cyberattack, as Iranian media reported that pro-regime hackers managed to infiltrate the servers of the “Israel Metro.”

Israel’s NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd said in a statement that “a glitch was detected” Monday morning on its website and that an examination determined that it had fallen victim to a denial-of-service [DoS] attack from abroad. NTA said it managed to regain control of the website and that it had sustained no lasting damages.

Iranian media reports, which all cited an unsourced report on the Sabereen News Telegram channel, said the “massive” cyberattack targeted the operating systems and servers of the “Israel Metro.” Israel’s Channel 12 reported that this led to ridicule online, as Israel has no underground train system.

The attack came just a day after a similar one disrupted operations of the websites belonging to Iran’s official culture and media offices, Channel 12 reported, clarifying that Iranian opposition activists had claimed responsibility and that it was not tied to Israel.

Last week, a large cyberattack forced the Iranian state-owned Khuzestan Steel Co. to halt production, and two other major steel producers also reported being targeted.

An anonymous hacking group claimed responsibility on social media for the attack, saying it had targeted Iran’s three biggest steel companies in response to the “aggression of the Islamic Republic.”

Israeli military correspondents, who are regularly briefed off-the-record by senior Israeli officials, hinted that Israel was directly responsible for the steel company assault in retaliation to a suspected cyberattack that caused rocket sirens to be heard in Jerusalem and Eilat last week.

Late last month, Israel’s Privacy Protection Authority announced that Iranian hackers attacked websites operated by Gol Tours LTD, an Israeli tourist company that owns over 20 travel booking websites. The hackers managed to to obtain the personal information of over 300,000 Israelis, including telephone numbers, addresses, dates and locations of booked vacations, and sensitive medical information, the authority said in a statement.

Earlier in June, Israeli communications firms were instructed to bolster cybersecurity, as the government rolled out a new initiative to guard the country against online attacks amid an uptick in hacks targeting Israeli websites.

Under the reform, Israel’s major communications companies are required to implement detailed plans for identifying and preventing future cyberattacks targeting communication networks. The companies now need to adhere to unified standards.

Numerous suspected Iranian cyberattacks on Israel were reported in recent years.

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