Failed cyberattack on a minor water facility in Israel in early April sought to poison water supply by exponentially increasing the amount of chlorine added to Israelis’ water. Iranian official dismisses the allegations, says Tehran “cannot politically afford to try to poison Israeli civilians.”
The failed Iranian cyberattack on a minor water facility in Israel in early April sought to poison the water supply delivered to hundreds of thousands on homes in the greater Tel Aviv area, The Financial Times on Sunday.
According to the report, the Iranian hackers sought to trick the facility’s computers into exponentially increasing the amount of chlorine added to the water as a matter of routine, which would have made them extremely hazardous to consume.
An Israeli official quoted in the report said the suspected attack had opened the door to “an unpredictable risk scenario.”
The incident had also created a precedent for tit-for-tat cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure that both countries have so far avoided.
According to the Washington Post, Israel was behind a recent cyber strike (1) on Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port – a newly constructed shipping terminal in the coastal city of Bandar Abbas, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz – mounted in retaliation for the targeting of the water facility.
An Iranian regime official dismissed the allegations, telling The Financial Times that “Iran cannot politically afford to try to poison Israeli civilians. And even if Iran did so, where is the Israelis’ appropriate response?
“Our suspicion is that Israelis want more money from the US and made up the whole thing. But the Americans are no idiots,” added the insider.
Iranian diplomat Alireza Miryousefi, the spokesman for the Islamic republic’s US mission, said Iran’s cyber activities “are purely defensive and protective.”
“As a victim of cyber warfare and other cyber sabotage, we know well how destructive it can be,” Miryousefi said. “We have been continuously a target by malevolent forces, and will continue to defend against any attack.”
Iran has disconnected much of its infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus which disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in its nuclear sites in the late 2000s.
Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation, though Israel did not admit to being behind it. A 2012 report said that then-US President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran as part of a cyber-sabotage wave and espionage against the Islamic republic.
Check Point Software Technologies founder and CEO Gil Shwed warned Monday that the world’s new reality will drive an increase in cyber threats.
Speaking as part of the Israeli-American Council and Peres Center for Peace and Innovation’s e-summit, Shwed said, “Cybersecurity will change a lot. What happened in the last three months pushed forward five, maybe even 10 years of technological evolution. More services moved online; companies removed barriers.
“After corona, if we say to ourselves the corona pandemic may be over [in Israel], we need to protect ourselves against the cyber pandemic that is coming. We know it will happen and we need to secure it.”
Israel appears to be behind a cyberattack earlier this month on computers at Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port that caused massive backups on waterways and roads leading to the facility, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Citing unnamed US and foreign government officials, the Post said the May 9 disruption of Iranian computers was presumably in retaliation for an earlier attempted cyberattack on rural water distribution systems in Israel.
The managing director of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Mohammad Rastad, told Iran’s ILNA news agency last week that the cyberattack did not penetrate the organization’s computers and was only able to infiltrate and damage a number of private operating systems.
A foreign government security official said, however, the attack was “highly accurate” and the damage to the Iranian port was more serious than described in official Iranian accounts, according to the Post.
“There was total disarray,” said the official.
The Post reported on May 8 that Iran was linked to the attempted cyberattack on the Israeli water network in April. The intrusion was detected and thwarted before significant damage was done, the Post said, citing officials familiar with the incident.