Messages on hacked digital billboards read: “Free gasoline at Jamaran gas station” and “Khamenei! Where is our gasoline?.”
By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News
Gas stations across Iran were shut down on Tuesday due to a possible “foreign cyber attack,” Israeli media reported, citing Iranian officials.
Despite Iranian media addressing the attack as “foreign” in nature, the incident took place on the two-year anniversary of the nationwide mass protests that swept across Iran in late 2019 and were violently dispersed by the regime.
According to Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency, which first addressed the incident as a cyberattack, people trying to purchase fuel with a government-issued card through automatic machines receive a message that reads: “cyberattack 64411,” a number reportedly associated with the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Most Iranians rely on these subsidies to fuel their vehicles, particularly amid the country’s economic problems.
Commander of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization, Gholam Reza Jalali, has accused Israel of carrying out the attack, Israel Hayom reported.
“The Zionists are behind the severe disruptions” he said on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after saying in another interview that Israel was incapable of causing significant damage to Iran.
In July, when Iran’s railroad system was hacked, causing disruptions and widespread chaos, fingers were naturally pointed at Israel. But a joint U.S.-Israel investigation of the incident found that an Iranian opposition group called Indra was behind the attack.
That might also be the case with this latest incident, which has presented similarities to July’s attack. Moreover, it seems like the group behind the attack was not only interested in disrupting the country’s economy, but in making a statement as well.
Besides targeting Iran’s gas stations, the hackers also gained access to digital billboards located on highways throughout the country, replacing the messages with anti-government statements like “Free gasoline at Jamaran gas station” and “Khamenei! Where is our gasoline?.”
Iran’s State TV has reported that officials within Iran’s Oil Ministry were holding an “emergency meeting” to address the issue as soon as possible.
On Wednesday morning, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that 80% of the 4,300 gas stations across the Islamic Republic that were affected by the attack had returned to normal activity, as the investigation into the massive cyberattack continued.
Iranian petrol stations have been targeted by a nationwide cyber-attack, with digital screens displaying the message “64411” at pumps. Some billboards have been caught on video display the messaging: “Khamenei, where is our petrol?”pic.twitter.com/Ql8vofFbAF
— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) October 26, 2021
Associated Press contributed to this report.