Damage to Iran port from purported Israeli cyberattack far worse than Tehran claims

Washington Post reporter who exposed Israeli cyberattack on a major Iranian port says the damage done was far worse than what the Iranians are admitting publicly.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Washington Post correspondent who broke the story on the cyber attack on an Iranian port says the damage caused was much more than what the Iranians admitted, Israel’s Kan news reported on Wednesday.

“The damage was far more significant than what the Iranians describe,” the Post‘s Joby Warrick told Kan diplomatic reporter Amichai Stein. “Satellite images show columns of trucks trying to reach the port, of ships waiting to reach the port, and we heard descriptions that everything was disabled and chaotic.”

Warrick added that according to all the sources with whom he spoke “all signs and evidence show that this is Israel” behind the cyberattack. He added that he believed that precisely because both sides are admitting to cyberattacks means that each side will say they won.

“It seems to me that both sides have no interest in a cyber war, and as far as Iran is concerned – they know that Israel’s capabilities are stronger,” Warrick told Stein.

A New York Times article Tuesday co-authored by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman said “high-ranking intelligence officials … who are kept informed of covert Israeli actions” said the purpose of what they described as “Israel’s relatively small-scale effort at the port … was to send a message to Tehran: Don’t target Israeli infrastructure.”

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Iran was behind the cyberattack on Israeli water authority sites in April that targeted several facilities, but failed to do any significant damage.

The officials told the Times that the Iranian attack not only failed, but described the Iranian offensive and its quality as “miserable.”

Israel at first decided not to respond to the attack on the water infrastructure because its impact was small, even if the Iran’s had successfully penetrated, Ynet reported.

However, when the attack was made public in the Israeli media, the government believed that Israel should respond in the same currency to do some damage to Iran’s civilian infrastructure and leak the story to international media.

Intelligence officials said the port was deliberately chosen so as not to be central, with the aim of conveying a warning that an attack on Israeli civilian infrastructure would not be unanswered and that it was crossing a red line.

On Tuesday Israeli security officials issued directives to sensitive facilities and national infrastructure sites around the country to increase their vigilance and alertness in case of an Iranian or pro-Iranian counter cyberattack.