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Iran's Oil Ministry Claims to Have Discovered Attacker's Agenda

Senior officials within Iran’s Oil Ministry have said that they now know what the attacker’s hidden agenda was when they launched a cyber attack last month. However, they won’t say what it is exactly, because they are still investigating.

“The nature of the attack and the identity of the attackers have been discovered, but we cannot publicize it since we are still working on the case. In general, the attack was carried out by virus penetration and was aimed at stealing and destroying data and information,” Deputy Oil Minister Hamdollah Mohammadnejad told Iran’s state controlled news agency.

In addition to the alleged discovery, state media quoted ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar with the announcement that the majority of the systems impacted by April’s attack had resumed operations.

In April, news of the attack spread after state websites were knocked offline and systems at Kharg Island’s oil facility were disconnected from the Internet. At the time, state media reported that an unknown worm was the root cause of the attack. Other reports linked the attack and subsequent outage to a virus that had deleted data.

The hype over the outage grew as reports from the AFP linked them to the 2010 Stuxnet attack, which targeted Iran’s nuclear development program.

Earlier in March, Iran announced plans to strengthen its cyber security measures with the establishment of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace. The council, state media reported, “...will establish the National Center for Cyberspace that will allow gaining complete knowledge about the activities in cyberspace on domestic and international scales...”

For now, it isn’t clear if the attacks on the Oil Ministry are on par with Stuxnet, or if they are being hyped up by Iranian officials.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.