Iran’s oil industry was hit by the cyber virus “Viper”, which has led to the establishment of a crisis centre at the Ministry of Oil to prepare for similar attacks.
Iranian media report that the Ministry of Oil and a number of its subsidiary companies were victims of a cyber attack.
ISNA reported that a ministry official has already confirmed the technical problem in the Oil Ministry’s computer systems. The report indicates the attack appears to have been initiated in March and has now reached a critical stage.
According to the ISNA report, the virus “Viper” has apparently deleted information from some of the computers. The “Viper” virus can apparently irreversibly erase information from computer hardware and cut off servers.
Meanwhile, Oil Ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad has told Fars News Agency that the ministry’s main data has not been harmed, because public servers are kept separate from the main servers.
Nikzad maintained that only public information was damaged by the attack. He confirmed that a virus has burned computer motherboards and erased their data.
He added that the ministry has ample backup for the data, and there are no concerns.
Mehr News Agency also reported the establishment of a crisis centre at the Ministry of Oil to defend against cyber attacks and prevent them.
The ministry said it is trying to establish whether this attack originated inside or outside the country. According to this report, internet access has been cut off for ministry staff as well as employees of the National Oil Company and of petrochemical, refinery and distribution companies, in an attempt to control cyber attacks.
Internet services in Kharg, Bahregan, Siri, Lavan, Gheshm and Kish have also been blocked.
In 2010, the Bushehr Nuclear Plant’s computer systems were infected with a virus called Stuxtnet, which later was identified in foreign media as a joint product of U.S. and Israeli intelligence services.
Foreign analysts claimed the virus caused a delay in the launch of the Bushehr nuclear power generator.
Last May, the head of Iran’s Passive Defence Organization announced the discovery of “a new spying virus”, saying: “Iranian scientists have been able to identify the spying malware, Stars.”