Iran shuts down oil infrastructure after cyber attack

Iran shut down Internet access to its oil terminals today following a cyber attack that is said to have begun on Sunday afternoon.

The Oil Ministry shut down Internet access to all of its oil facilities, operations, and rigs soon after finding the virus, dubbed “wiper”, according to an anonymous Oil Ministry employee who spoke with The New York Times. According to this individual, Iran’s oil production and exports were not affected.

The virus was responsible for some wiped hard drives within the ministry, appropriately earning its name. Related websites such as the National Iranian Oil Company and the National Iranian Gas Company were also shut down, according to the Times, though whether they were shut down by the virus or the Ministry remains unclear.

This virus isn’t the first of its kind to hit Iranian infrastructure. In 2010, a virus called Stuxnet affected Iran’s nuclear program by attacking its control system called SCADA or supervisory control and data acquisition. The SCADA system controls various processes (both hardware and software oriented) within the nuclear program, including those responsible for creating fuel for potential nuclear weapons.

“Attacks on critical infrastructure are more common than many think,” said McAfee security director Brian Contos in an e-mail to VentureBeat, “Because of a lack of disclosure in these industries, many incidents ranging from sabotage and intellectual property theft to extortion go unreported.”

Other SCADA systems, including those on U.S. soil are flagged as being vulnerable to cyber attack. John Strauchs, who owns a security consulting firm, flagged prison doors controlled by SCADA systems as a potential target. He came to the conclusion soon after receiving a call about a prison’s death-row doors popping open. In that case, the doors were triggered by a faulty wire.

via The New York Times; Oil pump image via Shutterstock