Most of Iran’s gas stations remain offline three days after the cyberattack

Iran’s subsidized fuel distribution system was partially restored on Friday, although most services remained grounded, three days after an unprecedented cyberattack by unknown perpetrators, authorities said.

Among the 4,300 service stations across the country, “today, 1,450 are connected to the central fuel distribution system,” said Fatemeh Kahi, spokesperson for the National Petroleum Products Distribution Company.

Another 2,350 stations were delivering unsubsidized fuel to motorists, he told state news agency IRNA.

Shortly after the outage, which paralyzed Iran’s fuel distribution network and stranded frustrated drivers, Iranian authorities had said the system would be fully operational on Wednesday.

Motorists in Iran who want to take advantage of substantial fuel subsidies must use digital cards issued by the authorities.

The cards provide monthly allowances for fuel at the subsidized rate, after which you must pay the open rate.

Tuesday’s mysterious cyberattack wreaked havoc on that accounting and distribution system.

A video shot in the Iranian city of Ishfan reportedly shows a billboard with a message saying “Khamenei, where is our gasoline?” amid a possible cyberattack that affected gas stations across Iran on October 26, 2021 (screenshot: Twitter)

Last year, Iran was the fifth largest producer in the OPEC cartel.

Authorities said Tuesday that the results of an investigation into the alleged attack would be ready within 10 days and that it could have originated outside of Iran.

President Ebrahim Raisi said Wednesday that his country must be “seriously prepared” against cyberattacks.

Raisi said the attack was designed to enrage people by creating disorder and disruption.

Abolhassan Firoozabadi, a senior official with Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, told state broadcaster IRIB on Wednesday that the attack had apparently been carried out by a foreign country, although it was too early to name suspects. He also linked the attack to another that targeted Iran’s rail system in July, in comments reported by IRNA.

The next day, an official tweeted in Hebrew that the “enemy’s goal” of fueling unrest through gas shortages had been thwarted.

“Although the passive front line defenses were disabled by a cyber attack, the rear defeated the enemy’s objective of provoking unrest in Iran through coordinated and timely action by the executive, security and communication agencies,” tweeted Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the National Supreme Court. Iran’s Security Council, in its second tweet this week in Hebrew, English, Arabic and Persian.

Cars wait in line to refuel at a gas station because the pumps are out of service, in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 (AP Photo / Vahid Salemi).

“Smart management in October 2021 reveals the recklessness of October 2019,” he said, presumably referring to the deadly fuel riots that took place in late 2019 in Iran.

Iran has in the past blamed Israel for causing unrest during protests. In July, Iran claimed to have arrested a Mossad cell that planned to provoke violence during demonstrations over water shortages in the country.

In 2010, the Stuxnet virus, believed to have been engineered by Israel and the United States, infected Iran’s nuclear program and caused a series of breakdowns in centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

Iran disconnected much of its internet infrastructure after the Stuxnet virus.

In 2019, Iran said that no cyberattack against the Islamic Republic had been successful after US media reported that the United States launched one during a clash between the two countries. The Iranian telecommunications minister acknowledged at the time that Iran had “faced cyber terrorism.”

In August, a cyberattack led to the leak of a video of abuse at the notorious Evin prison in Iran.

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