Mossad blamed for cyberattack on Tehran municipality

A group affiliated with the Iranian opposition group MEK recently claimed to have targeted the municipality.

Iranians hold flags during a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022 (photo credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
Iranians hold flags during a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022

The head of the Tehran City Council blamed the Mossad and anti-government groups for a cyberattack against the municipality, the Iranian Mehr News Agency reported on Tuesday.

On Thursday, a group called "Uprising until Overthrow," affiliated with The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (the Mujahedin-e-Khalq or MEK), claimed that it had hacked into the Tehran municipality's security cameras and defaced the municipality's website with a graphic that criticized the "anti-human Khomeini," according to the Voice of America.

The graphic included an image of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with a red "X" over his face, as well as photos of MEK leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. The cyberattack was conducted on the anniversary of the death of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini.

The Young Journalists Club (YJC) reported on Thursday that part of the network of municipal surveillance cameras, as well as the service infrastructure of the My Tehran site, the municipality's website and other internal systems and communication systems had been "disrupted."

"Deliberate disruption in the internal page of the internal system of Tehran Municipality made this system out of the reach of colleagues for a few minutes by publishing an insulting image," the public relations of the municipal ICT organization told YJC, adding that the nature of those behind the disruption would be announced by the responsible institutions at a later point.

Referring to the cyberattack, the head of the Tehran City Council, Mehdi Chamran, stated on Tuesday that "detailed planning was carried out by the Mossad and the hypocrites and the cooperation of all counter-revolutionaries" to hack the municipality's systems on the anniversary of Khomeini's death.

Chamran added that "what these people wanted to do was not realized, and with the power of our friends in the municipality, this action was limited to publishing a few insulting images."

The city council head stressed that while the systems were disrupted, they had been reactivated on Tuesday, adding that the municipality needed to make up for "shortcomings" from recent years.

Ali Asghar Ghaemi, a member of the city council, called on Tuesday for municipal officials to be equipped with equipment and manpower to be prepared for incidents similar to the cyberattack, according to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

"We, the city managers, need to apologize to the people of Tehran for the disturbances caused by the cyberattack, and we hope that with the efforts of our friends in the municipality to compensate for the damages in the near future, we will see the continuation of municipal services," said Ghaemi.

"It is necessary for the municipality to provide the necessary tools, the necessary manpower and the necessary equipment so that they can strengthen themselves in the face of similar incidents, because the enmity of the enemies is endless," added the city council member.

Latest cyberattack against Iran

In April, the Iranian “AFTA” presidential strategic management center thwarted a widespread cyber attack on the country's infrastructure, according to Iranian state TV IRIB.

According to AFTA, the cyberattackers planned to exploit a security gap in one of the softwares most widely used by infrastructure organizations in Iran.

In February, the Edalat Ali hacker group claimed that it had hacked the cameras of Iran’s Ghezel Hesar Prison, after claiming to have hacked the cameras of Iran's Evin Prison and the Iranian Telewebion site. The group published footage reportedly from the cameras, as well as documents from the prison.