Israel reportedly linked to cyberattack on Iranian port - Washington Post

A foreign government security official said the attack was "highly accurate" and the damage to the Iranian port was more serious than described in official Iranian accounts, the Post reported.

People pose in front of a display showing the word 'cyber' in binary code, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica (photo credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)
People pose in front of a display showing the word 'cyber' in binary code, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica
(photo credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)
Israel is likely behind a cyberattack which halted traffic and caused “total disarray” at Iran’s Shahid Rajaei Port, located near the Strait of Hormuz, last week, according to a report by The Washington Post.
On May 11, Mohammad Rastad, Managing Director of the Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), announced that a cyberattack managed to damage a number of private systems at the Shahid Rajaei port.
Allah-Morad Afifi-Pour, Director-General of the PMO of Hormozgan province in southern Iran, had initially denied the reports of a cyberattack, but Rastad confirmed that a cyberattack had occurred in a press conference on Sunday, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.
Rastad also confirmed that the attack was carried out by a foreign entity, according to Fars.
While Rastad stressed that operations had not been disrupted by the attack, US and foreign government officials told the Post that traffic in the area came to a halt and was plagued with issues for a number of days.
Intelligence and cybersecurity officials familiar with the incident told the Post that the attack was carried out by “Israeli operatives,” possibly in retaliation for an earlier cyberattack on Israel’s civilian water system. A US official with access to classified files also told the Post that Israel was believed to have been behind the attack.
Satellite photographs showing miles-long traffic jams on highways leading the Shahid Rajaee port and dozens of loaded container ships waiting just off the coast were shown to the Post as well.
The cyberattack was “highly accurate,” according to a security official with a foreign government that monitored the incident, which reportedly took place on May 9, two days before Iranian officials acknowledged it had occurred.
The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters on the Post’s report.
Former IDF intelligence chief and executive director of the INSS Amos Yadlin tweeted that cyberspace is “joining the ground, sea and air dimensions as a significant dimension of warfare,” pointing to incidents in which the US and Iran used cyberattacks as responses to attacks in order to prevent an escalation in the physical world.
“If Israel is the one who responded to the Iranian attack that targeted civilian infrastructure, Israel is making it clear that civilian systems should be left out of battle,” added Yadlin. “This is a significant message about the vulnerability of Iran’s financial systems to Israeli cyber abilities.”
Earlier this month, Israel’s security cabinet met to discuss an alleged Iranian cyberattack on Israeli water and sewage facilities that took place in April. 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.
“This was a very unordinary cyberattack against civilian water facilities which is against every ethic and every code even in times of war,” a senior Israeli official told Channel 13. “We didn’t expect this even from the Iranians. It is just not done.”
Iran reported three cyberattacks within one week back in December. At least one of the attacks was allegedly “state-sponsored.”
Iranian 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, helped thwart 33 million cyberattacks against the country in 2019, according to Fars.
Reuters contributed to this report.