Israel has been accused of launching a major cyberattack on an Iranian port that caused transport chaos for days after crashing the facility’s computer system, a news report said on Tuesday.
Iran’s Shahid Rajaee terminal, near the Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz, was suddenly hit by hackers, crippling the port on May 9, the Washington Post reported.
The cyberattack created kilometres-long line-ups of vehicles outside the port and vessels stuck in the harbour.
The Post quoted intelligence and cybersecurity officials familiar with the situation as saying the computer strike was carried out by Israeli operatives, “presumably in retaliation for an earlier attempt to penetrate computers that operate rural water distribution systems in Israel”.
“There was total disarray,” said one foreign security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, describing the attack as “highly accurate”.
The newspaper was shown satellite imagery showing the massive back up of trucks on roads and container ships in the water.
Iran confirmed the cyberattack on the facility the day after it was hit but played down its severity.
“A recent cyberattack failed to penetrate the PMO’s systems and was only able to infiltrate and damage a number of private operating systems at the ports,” said Mohammad Rastad, managing director of the Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), in a statement.
Citing foreign intelligence sources, the Post reported on May 8 that Iran was responsible for a cyberattack on water distribution networks in Israel, but it was repulsed with no damage done. Iran denied involvement in the failed April 24 hacking.
Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment, the report said.
An unnamed Western official told Israel’s Channel 12 on Tuesday: “Israel hopes [the Iranians] stop there. They attacked water infrastructure components. They didn’t really cause damage, but they crossed a line and [Israel] needed to retaliate.”