Mohammad Hassan Rouhani said that a cyberattack that paralysed gas stations in Iran earlier this month was meant to create chaos.
Iran has said that the attack last week crippled pumping stations, which in turn affected consumers, leading to an average of 20-30 minutes’ delay in receiving a delivery.
The attack appeared to use an exploit codenamed Project Chess as part of an assault known as Operation Ababil that targeted gas stations in France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
Iran has in the past sought to downplay the intelligence, attribution and consequences of foreign cyberattacks. However, after the incident, Rouhani conceded “exclusively that” a cyberattack had occurred.
“While stopping after less than 24 hours, the operation was carried out in a way that created disturbance in gas stations and utility companies,” Rouhani said.
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The New York Times reported that Israel, the United States and Qatar were all expected to be blamed in connection with Operation Ababil, in which hundreds of thousands of hacking tools were stolen in an operation dubbed Lazarus by US authorities.
A spokesman for the Iranian minister of public works, Mohammad Bagher Behbahani, said the cyberattack had been carried out by “illegitimate and ill-intentioned parties” and called on relevant countries to determine who were behind it.
British security minister Ben Wallace said his government believed the cyberattack was probably a covert attempt to disrupt supply of gas.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, which Iranian officials did not attribute. British officials said they did not believe it was the work of Islamic State.