Iranian Official Disputes Reports of New Cyber Attacks
Ali Akbar Akhavan of Iran's Passive Defense Organization says he was misquoted, but the Iranian Students News Agency is standing by its initial story.
Following recent reports that Ali Akbar Akhavan of Iran's Passive Defense Organization claimed to have successfully blocked malware attacks on industrial sites in the south of the country, Akhavan now says he was misquoted.
"An initial report on Tuesday from the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) claimed that cyber attackers had breached computer systems at a power plant and a branch of the Culture Ministry in the southern coastal province of Hormozgan," writes SC Magazine's Greg Masters. "The location is considered strategic because the area borders the Straits of Hormuz, which offers the only open sea lane between the oil-rich Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean."
But a later AFP report suggested that the first report may have been a simple misunderstanding. "'At a press conference we announced readiness to confront cyber attacks against Hormuzgan installations, which was mistakenly reported by the agencies as a cyber attack having been foiled,' Ali Akbar Akhavan said," the article states.
"ISNA hit back, publishing MP3 files which it claimed contained Akhavan's initial remarks, and saying it stood by the accuracy of its initial story, according to a machine translation of the report," writes Computerworld's Peter Sayer. "In a further twist, however, ISNA also published a third report that, according to a machine translation, quoted other Iranian officials as saying there had been no attacks on electrical installations in the region."
"Iran has been more vocal about its cyber capabilities in recent months in particular, and since Stuxnet was used to disrupt a uranium enrichment facility in that country in 2010," notes Threatpost's Michael Mimoso. "Less than two weeks ago, Iran’s Maher Center, the country’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) reported new malware was targeting computers in the country that was capable of wiping data from disk partitions."