Fuel distribution was halted on Tuesday, October 26, at around noon at all service stations in Iran, state television said. “Due to disruptions in the computer system, the distribution of fuel to service stations across the country has been interrupted”, thus affirmed the same source.
First unidentified, this general blackout is in fact due to a cyberattack, the country’s highest security authority said shortly after. “The Supreme National Security Council confirmed that it was a cyberattack against the computer fuel distribution system”, state television reported. “Details of the attack and its origin are under investigation”, added the same source, without further details.
Official channels showed gas stations closed as queues lengthened. “An urgent meeting is held at the Iranian National Petroleum Products Distribution Company to resolve the problem”, also declared his spokesperson, Fatemeh Kahi. In Tehran, technicians from the petroleum ministry took the computer system of a few gas stations offline to dispense fuel manually, TV reported later in the day.
“No plan to increase the price of gasoline”
From the start, “Officials concerned” had not ruled out that it could be a cyberattack, evoked by Iranian social media. Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, however, had preferred to ensure that the interruption was “Due to a technical problem which will be resolved soon”.
Conservative news agency Fars has linked the blackout to the anniversary of November 15, 2019, when violent protests erupted in Iran after news of a sudden rise in gasoline prices. The government “Has no plan to increase the price of gasoline and people shouldn’t be worried”, promised Mr. Vahidi, questioned by the public broadcasting.
In July, a cyberattack had already crippled the country’s rail system and sparked scenes of « chaos », wrote then The Times of Israel. In addition to train delays and cancellations, hackers disseminated erroneous traffic information messages, calling on users to contact a number – which turned out to be the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
If the attack had not been claimed, the New York Times reported in July that an investigation, conducted by an Israeli-American cybersecurity firm, concluded that a group named Indra and opposed to the Iranian government was likely behind the cyberattack.
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In Iran, “Cyber Attack” Causes Fuel Failure Across Country