A cyber attack managed to damage a number of private systems at the Shahid Rajaei port near Bandar Abbas and the Strait of Hormuz in recent days, said Mohammad Rastad, Managing Director of the Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), to Iran’s ILNA news agency on Sunday.
Allah-Morad Afifi-Pour, Director-General of the PMO of Hormozgan province in southern Iran, initially denied the reports of a cyber attack, but Rastad confirmed that a cyber attack had occurred in a press conference on Sunday, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.
“A recent cyber attack failed to penetrate the PMO’s systems and was only able to infiltrate and damage a number of private operating systems at the ports,” said Rastad, according to ILNA.
Rastad stressed that operations had not been disrupted by the attack, despite earlier reports to the contrary.
The PMO head added that the organization is well protected, but still needs to “continuously strengthen and update the layers of protection to minimize the risk of a cyber attack.”
Rastad confirmed that the attack was carried out by a foreign entity, according to Fars News Agency.
Iran reported three cyber attacks within one week back in December. At least one of the attacks was allegedly “state-sponsored.”
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi claimed that two of the three attacks in December were repelled by the country’s security shield.
Jahromi claimed that the Islamic Republic’s national cybersecurity wall, known as Digital Fortress or Dezhfa, has helped thwart 33 million cyber attacks against the country in 2019, according to Fars.
Dezhfa was designed and developed by young Iranian scientists and successfully tested on industrial automation systems, according to an Instagram post by Jahromi.
Iran is currently in the process of developing a national intranet system, known as the National Information Network (NIN), in order to cut the country’s dependency on international cyberspace, according to Radio Farda. The network will also prevent Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) from helping Iranians bypass the Islamic Republic’s censorship of the Internet, as data requests won’t be routed outside the country.
The plan was first announced in 2010 with an expected completion date in 2015. In May, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution announced that the NIN is 80% complete.
The intranet would allow the government to decide what content can be accessed by users, removing the need for absolute shutdowns like the one imposed during the protests.
Some Iranian newspapers warned the government against imposing such a decision on citizens, as things could easily spark out of control as they did after gasoline prices were raised in a sudden decision by the nation’s leadership, according to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an Iranian militant opposition group. A state-run daily called the announcement a “threatening message to the people,” while another daily asked, “will the people and the private sector tolerate the Internet shutdown?”
On Thursday, Israel’s security cabinet met to discuss an alleged Iranian cyber attack on Israeli water and sewage facilities that took place last month. The attack did not cause substantial damage except for a few issues in local water systems, according to Israeli officials, but is still seen as a substantial escalation by the Iranians, especially since the attack targeted civilian infrastructure.