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Iran Cyber Attack Oil Industry Contained, Official Says

A cyber attack that targeted Iran’s crude industry and caused computer systems at the Oil Ministry and other related state-owned businesses to crash has been “fully contained,” a government official said.

“All operational activities of the oil industry are following their natural course at the moment,” Iran’s deputy oil minister for engineering affairs, Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, told the state-run Mehr news agency. “The software attack has been fully contained and controlled with the help of experts three days after it hit.”

None of the data of the Oil Ministry were accessed, Mohammadnejad said, adding that costs incurred as a result of the April 22 attack were “minimal.”

Iranian officials said earlier this week that the malware hadn’t affected oil production or exports, though they said that operational sites, including some of the Persian Gulf country’s main oil terminals, had been disconnected from the Internet in an effort to prevent infiltration.

The attack was at least the second directed against Iran’s government-related computer systems in two years.

In 2010, a malicious software known as Stuxnet affected computer systems and several centrifuges used in Iran’s nuclear program to enrich uranium, Iranian officials said at the time. Stuxnet may have been part of a campaign to disrupt Iranian nuclear installations, international computer-security researchers have said.

Economic Sanctions

Iran, the second-largest crude-oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, is subject to sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union seeking to force it to curb its nuclear program. An EU oil ban against Iranian oil is set to go into effect on July 1.

The latest attack comes a week after Iran and six world powers ended a 15-month stalemate on discussions about the country’s atomic program. Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members -- the U.S., Britain, China, France, and Russia -- plus Germany have agreed to reconvene for talks in Baghdad on May 23.

Iran’s uranium-enrichment program is at the center of the dispute between the U.S., its allies and Iran. Iran denies allegations it’s trying to build atomic weapons and says it is producing uranium to use as fuel in nuclear reactors.

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