Foreign hackers carried out a cyberattack that damaged systems at a port in the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas last week, a senior official said on May 11.
The announcement was reportedly made in an effort to dispel growing speculation that the shutdown of activity at Shahid Rajaei port late last week was connected to a weekend incident in which an Iranian ship was hit by friendly fire.
According to reports, the assault shut down activity at the port on May 9. Officials from the Port and Maritime Organization (PMO) in Hormozgan Province had initially denied that a cyber incident had taken place. But at a news conference, a government official admitted it.
"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 port," said Mohammad Rastad, Iran's deputy minister of roads and urban development, according to the Fars News Agency.
He added that the strike came from outside the country, without elaborating.
The port city of Bandar Abbas is located on the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean beyond.
Nineteen sailors were killed when an Iranian warship was hit by a missile from another Iranian warship during drills on May 11.
On May 7, Fox News quoted a senior US Energy Department official as saying that a cyberattack against Israeli water and sewage facilities in late March was carried out by Iranian hackers using servers in the US. The assault, considered to be a major escalation, was thwarted.
"This is an attack that goes against all the codes of war. Even from the Iranians we didn’t expect something like this," a senior Israeli official said, according to Israel's Channel 13. The incident was said to be the topic of an Israeli Security Cabinet meeting on May 7, the first since the coronavirus outbreak began.
There has been no official comment by the Israeli government on the Iranian link to the assault against the country's water facilities.