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Israel seems to be behind a cyberattack at Iran's Shahid Rajaee port

Israel seems to be behind a cyberattack at Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port

Israel seems to be behind a cyberattack on computers at Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port that generated extensive backups on waterways and roads directing to the facility, the American Washington Post told on Monday.On May 9, shipping traffic at Iran’s bustling Shahid Rajaee port terminal came to an abrupt and inexplicable halt. This port is the newest of two major shipping terminals in the Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas, on the Strait of Hormuz. Computers that regulate the flow of vessels, trucks and goods all crashed at once.

After waiting a day, Iranian officials recognized that an unknown foreign hacker had briefly hit on the port’s computers off­line. Now, more than a week later – the Post writes – a more complete explanation has come to light: the port was the victim of a substantial cyberattack that U.S. and foreign government officials say appears to have originated with Iran’s archenemy, Israel.

Quoting unnamed US and foreign officials, the newspaper said the May 9 disruption of Iranian computers was presumably in retaliation for an earlier attempted cyberattack on rural water distribution systems in Israel.The managing director of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Mohammad Rastad, said Iran’s ILNA news agency last week that the cyberattack did not penetrate the organization’s computers and was only able to infiltrate and damage several private operating systems.“There was total disarray,” said the official, who spoke on the condition that his identity and national affiliation not be revealed, citing the highly sensitive nature of the intelligence. A U.S. official with access to classified files also said that Israelis were believed to have been behind the attack.

The Washington Post was shown satellite photographs depicting miles-long traffic jams on highways leading to the Shahid Rajaee port on May 9. In a photograph dated May 12, dozens of loaded container ships can be observed in a waiting area just off the coast.“Assuming it’s true, this is in line with the Israeli policy of aggressively responding to Iranian provocation, either kinetically or through other means,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, a cybersecurity policy fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center and founder and former chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm. “Any time you see Iranian escalation, as with their build-up of rocket capacity in Syria, you have consistently seen Israeli retaliation with bombing runs on those positions. So, it appears they have now applied that doctrine in cyberspace.”

Inspectors found that the hackers routed their attempted attack through computer servers in the United States and Europe, a common strategy used by enemies of the West. Israeli Water Authority officials detected the attempt and immediately took steps, including changing system passwords.

The Israeli Embassy did not reply to requests for explanation and the Israel Defense Forces as well. Iran has repeatedly denied involvement in the failed April 24 hacking attempt on Israeli water distribution systems. If true, the reports lead to a new round of tit-for-tat blows between the two hostile Middle East rivals, although U.S. cybersecurity authorities said the most recent exchanges have been almost moderate so far.

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