Feeds

Iran cuts off oil plants hit by mystery data-destroying virus

Lockdown as officials drill into malware riddle

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Malware discovered at an Iranian oil terminal forced Iran to disconnect key oil facilities on Sunday.

Authorities said an unnamed data-deleting virus prompted them to disconnect the main oil export terminal on Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf. The websites of the Iranian oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil firm went dark for two days after the virus first struck on Sunday. The sites were back up on Tuesday.

Hamdolah Mohammadnejad, Iran's deputy oil minister, who is leading a response committee, told the official IRNA news agency that rapid action had limited the virus's spread.

"We shut computers connected to these servers temporarily and fortunately we were able to stop its spread. Thus no information or data were harmed," he said.

"We are investigating the causes of these cyber problems and in the next two to three days we hope the problems will be solved," he added.

David Harley, senior research fellow at anti-virus firm ESET, commented: "At present, it is difficult to say exactly how the virus (if it was, in fact, a virus) was able to infiltrate Iran’s systems.

"Iran’s computing environments are a little unusual, in that there are no legitimate channels for directly supplying and maintaining standard operating systems and apps. This may result in greater [than] usual exposure to all kinds of exploits."

Although details are sketchy, it seems like the malware is unrelated to Stuxnet, a sophisticated worm that sabotaged control systems running uranium enrichment centrifuges at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility.

Harley added: "The Stuxnet payload is very hardware-specific, whereas this malware appears to have stolen and/or destroyed data. It may be related, of course, especially if it turns out that it is targeted.

"Without knowing the capabilities of the Iranian 'Cyber Crisis Committee', its usefulness depends on who is on it, their understanding of cyber attacks, and how much influence and authority they wield. It makes sense to have a proactive crisis management team. On the other hand, a team that is over-influenced by political or self-serving considerations may do more harm than good," the researcher said. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.