Feeds

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

Lockdown as officials drill into malware riddle

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.